Get in Line: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
December 12, 2023

The phrase "get in line" means placing oneself in a queue or a row, aligning with others waiting for their turn, such as at a store or ticket counter. This is a common usage in everyday contexts where orderly waiting is required. Figuratively, however, "get in line" is used to imply conformity or adherence to a set of rules, expectations, or norms.

In short:

"Get in line" typically means waiting for one's turn or conforming to a certain standard or expectation.

What Does "Get in Line" Mean?

At its core, the idiom touches on order, patience, and following established norms.

Here's a closer look:

  • It means waiting for one's turn, especially in a queue.
  • It means conforming to or adhering to specific standards or expectations.
  • Synonyms include: "fall in line" or "toe the line."

Where Does "Get in Line" Come From?

Historically, the concept of forming an orderly line can be traced back to times when public services or goods were distributed in a controlled manner, necessitating an organized system for people to wait their turn. The phrase "get in line" would have been a direct instruction in such contexts, emphasizing the need for order and fairness in public interactions.

Historical Context

"We know your sentiments and respect them, but you should have an up-to-date card and get in line."

This line, from the Railroad Telegrapher, published in 1895, captures the essence of the phrase in its context of waiting one's turn.

10 Examples of "Get in Line" in Sentences

To better understand how the phrase is used in context, let's consider the following examples:

  • If you want that bestselling book, you better get in line early because they're selling out fast.
  • Every morning, I have to get in line at the café, but that first sip of coffee makes the wait worthwhile.
  • Everyone is eager to try the new roller coaster, so you'd better get in line early.
  • The workshop was pricey, but seeing the skills I gained, it was money well spent. I'd gladly get in line for another session.
  • You can't just jump in; you have to get in line.
  • Everyone rushed to get in line when they announced the free tickets.
  • You can't get special treatment; you must get in line like everyone else.
  • I had to get in line early to secure a spot for the workshop.
  • You must first get in line at the registration desk to apply for the new passport.
  • After seeing the long queue at the event, I decided to give it a pass and not get in line.

Examples of "Get in Line" in Pop Culture

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Get in Line"

  • Fall into place
  • Queue up
  • Follow the rules
  • Conform

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Get in Line"

  • What are the main meanings of "get in line"?

The primary meanings are to form or join a physical queue and to conform to a particular standard or expectation.

  • Where did the phrase originate?

It likely originated from the practice of people forming orderly queues or lines in many cultures.

  • Are there other idioms similar to "get in line"?

Yes, "fall in line" and "stay in line" are similar expressions.

  • Can "get in line" be used in a metaphorical sense?

Absolutely. It can imply conforming to expectations or standards.

  • Is the idiom used internationally?

Yes, the concept of queuing and conforming to standards is universal, so variations of this idiom exist in many languages.

  • Is "get in line" formal or informal?

It's neutral and can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

  • Can this phrase be used sarcastically?

Like most idioms, its meaning can change based on tone and context.

  • How often is the phrase used in everyday language?

It's a commonly used idiom, especially in contexts involving waiting or conforming to norms.

  • Are there songs titled "Get in Line"?

For example, the Barenaked Ladies have a song with this title.

  • Can the phrase have a negative connotation?

Depending on the context, it can imply strict conformity and can be used negatively to suppress individuality.

Final Thoughts About "Get in Line"

The phrase "get in line" is more than just about queuing up. It encapsulates the essence of order, discipline, and sometimes the conformity expected in society.

  • It can be literal, like waiting in a queue.
  • It can be metaphorical, like adhering to societal norms.
  • The idiom has found its way into various aspects of pop culture, emphasizing its significance.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

U.S Dictionary is the premier dictionary about the English language as used in the United States of America.
Copyright © 2024 - U.S. Dictionary
Privacy Policy