Get on Top Of: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
September 10, 2023

The idiom "get on top of" means to take control of a situation, problem, or task that is difficult or overwhelming. It can also mean to gain an advantage over someone or something, especially in a competitive context.

In short:

  • "Get on top of" means to take control or gain an advantage.

What Does "Get on Top Of" Mean?

The idiom "get on top of" has two primary meanings, depending on the context and the object of the phrase. The first meaning is to take control of a situation, problem, or task that is difficult or overwhelming. The second meaning is to gain an advantage over someone or something, especially in a competitive context.

Where Does "Get on Top Of" Come From?

The idiom "get on top of" comes from the literal sense of being physically above someone or something. This position implies dominance, superiority, or victory over the person or thing below. For example, in wrestling or fighting, getting on top of your opponent means you have them pinned down and are likely to win.

Historical Example

The earliest recorded use of the idiom "get on top of" in the figurative sense of taking control or gaining an advantage dates back to the 18th century. One example is from a letter written by George Washington in 1776, where he wrote:

"I hope we shall be able to get on top of these difficulties"

10 Examples of "Get on Top Of" in Sentences

Here are some examples of how to use this idiom in different sentences:

  • Oh, snap. I must get on top of my finances and pay my debts.
  • Yaas! I want to get on top of my health and start exercising more.
  • No diggity. He got on top of his fear of heights by going skydiving.
  • Way to go. She got on top of her addiction by joining a support group.
  • She always gets on top of her class by studying hard day in and day out.
  • Real talk: You need to get on top of your homework before the deadline.
  • They got on top of the situation by taking the initiative to contact the police.
  • No mean feat. She always tries to get on top of the latest trends and fashion.
  • I feel your pain. You're struggling to get on top of your emotions after the breakup.
  • Glad to hear that she managed to get on top of the situation and calm everyone down.

Examples of "Get on Top Of" in Pop Culture

Here are some examples of how this idiom has been used in various forms of pop culture:

  • In The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen tells Peeta Mellark: "You have to get on top of that roof." She means he must climb to a safe spot to hide from their enemies.
  • In the TV show¬†Breaking Bad, Walter White tells Jesse Pinkman: "We've got to get on top of this." He means that they have to deal with the problem of Gus Fring, who is trying to kill them.
  • In the book The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield says: "I was trying to get on top of her, sort of, if you want to know the truth." He means he was trying to make out with Sally Hayes, but she rejected him.
  • In the Grand Theft Auto V game, Trevor Philips tells Michael De Santa: "We gotta get on top of this, man." He means that they have to plan their next heist and escape from the law.

Other Ways to Say "Get on Top Of"

Some synonyms for this idiom are:

  • Get ahead of
  • Get a grip on
  • Stay on top of
  • Get control of
  • Get the best of
  • Get a handle on
  • Get one over on
  • Get the better of
  • Get the edge over
  • Get the upper hand

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Get on Top Of"

Here are some frequently asked questions about this idiom:

  • What does "get on top of" mean?

The idiom "get on top of" means to take control of a situation, problem, or task that is difficult or overwhelming. It can also mean to gain an advantage over someone or something, especially in a competitive context.

  • What is the origin of the phrase "get on top of"?

The idiom "get on top of" comes from the literal sense of being physically above someone or something. This position implies dominance, superiority, or victory over the person or thing below.

  • What is the difference between "get on top of" and "stay on top of"?

"Get on top of" means taking control or gaining an advantage over something complex or challenging, while "staying on top " means keeping up with or maintaining control of something changing or demanding.

  • Is "get on top of" a formal or informal expression?

"Get on top of" is an informal expression more suitable for casual or conversational contexts. It is inappropriate for formal or academic settings, where more precise or polite terms might be preferred.

  • Can "get on top of" be used positively or negatively?

"Get on top of" can be used positively and negatively, depending on the situation and the speaker's intention. It can be positive when it implies overcoming a challenge, achieving a goal, or improving a situation. It can be negative when it means dominating, oppressing, or exploiting someone or something.

  • What are some antonyms for "get on top of"?

Some antonyms for "get on top of" are lose control of, fall behind, be overwhelmed by, be defeated by, and be inferior to.

  • How can I use "get on top of" in a question?

You can use "get on top of" in a question by adding a question word (such as who, what, where, when, why, or how) before or after the phrase, depending on the context and the meaning.

  • Can I use "get on top of" with different pronouns?

Yes, you can use "get on top of" with different pronouns, such as I, you, he, she, we, they, it, etc.

  • Can I use "get on top of" in different tenses?

Yes, you can use "get on top of" in different tenses, such as present simple, past, future, or other forms, by changing the verb "get" accordingly.

  • How can I avoid using "get on top of" too often?

To avoid using "get on top of" too often, you can use synonyms, antonyms, or related expressions with similar meanings, depending on the context and the tone. You can also rephrase your sentences using different words or structures that convey the same idea.

Final Thoughts About "Get on Top Of"

The idiom "get on top of" is a common and valuable expression in various contexts and situations.

In summary:

  • It comes from the literal sense of being physically above someone or something.
  • It has two primary meanings: to take control or gain an advantage.
  • It can be used with different pronouns and tenses.
  • It has many synonyms, antonyms, and related expressions.
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