English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What does get a grip mean and where does it come from? I think it is usually addressed to someone who doesn't understand the obvious, like in the third paragraph of this book review:

I am amazed at the 1-star ratings by "intellectuals" who charge that this book stands on very shaky philosophic ground, and that it does not live up to the high caliber of true scientific studies into communication fundamentals and/or gender differences. Get a grip! That's not the purpose of the book!

share|improve this question
up vote 9 down vote accepted

"Get a grip" actually has two meanings.

When a person has let their emotions take control of their actions and thoughts, often times people will tell them to "get a grip" - to get their emotions under control.

From thefreedictionary.com:

Get a grip (on yourself): to make an effort to control your emotions and behave more calmly. (ex. Come on, get a grip, we've got an important meeting in five minutes. I just think he ought to get a grip on himself - he's behaving like a child.)

Get a grip (on yourself) (spoken): to control your emotions. (ex. I know it's hard, but get a grip on yourself and tell me what you saw. Oh, get a grip, Tess! It's really not as bad as you think.)

Additionally, "get a grip" can also refer to gaining an understanding:

Get a grip (on something): to understand how to deal with something. (ex. The program will have helpful tips on how to get a grip on your finances. Something is obviously not right in our organization, and we must get a grip on the problem.)

As to the origination of the idiom, that I'm not sure of.

share|improve this answer

It's a shortened version of "Get a grip on reality". It means that the speaker believes that the person being spoken to is not thinking straight: that they've lost touch with reality. They are suggesting that you regain contact with reality.

It usually implies that the speaker thinks that your opinion is very poorly considered.

share|improve this answer

Used as imperative, get a grip means "keep or recover one's self-control."

Get a grip, guys!

share|improve this answer

I think the point everyone is missing: the term grip can be used literally as in, "Make sure you have a good grip on that ladder or I will fall." Therfore, get a grip or get a grip on reality is the juxtaposition of abstract things such as emotion and reality with the metaphysical thing such as getting a grip on a ladder, screwdriver or even you're cars grip on the road.

share|improve this answer

origin is connected to freemasonry.

The saying 'Get a grip' comes from the notion that a person joining the craft is gaining access to greater understanding; also, they are also learning one or more new hand-grips. the knowledge and maturation of ones soul and the secretive handshakes go hand-in-hand.
Composure, comprehension, and fraternity each share a direct association to the word Grip.

get it?

share|improve this answer
Can you cite any reference for this, or is it speculation on your part? – choster Dec 1 '13 at 5:21

protected by Rathony May 20 at 6:16

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.