Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have heard this many times, with variations like "something's gotta give", but what exactly does it mean?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by MετάEd, Mitch, Mark Beadles, Matt Эллен, J.R. Oct 18 '12 at 15:09

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
This kind of question is perfect for a search engine like Google. Before asking this kind of General Reference question, please search for the answer yourself: link –  user21497 Oct 18 '12 at 12:02
    
@BillFranke, a search engine like google spits out tons of links, each with its own version of the answer. I asked here because the site allows a discussion unlike the search engine. –  robasta Oct 18 '12 at 12:06
    
@Bill Franke: This is difficult to find on Google because the expression is used in titles of many works, and they really hide the definition of the expression well. –  SF. Oct 18 '12 at 12:06
    
Click on the link I provided. It's defined in Dictionary.com's slang dictionary. I got that as hit #5 on the first page of my Google search. By the way, I didn't vote to close the question, but I agree that it should be closed. –  user21497 Oct 18 '12 at 12:09
    
Something, has got, to give. –  Matt Эллен Oct 18 '12 at 14:58

1 Answer 1

From the Macmillan Dictionary entry for give:

If something that supports or holds something gives, it breaks.

"Something's gotta give" means that things are building up and the speaker expects that whatever is supporting everything is going to break under the pressure. This can be (and often is) used figuratively.

share|improve this answer
    
'... elasticity , and resilience, which informally is called give' -- What gives? :) You are contradicting yourself here. Elasticity is the ability not to 'give'; resilience gives a bit and returns to state. Failure corresponds to the sense you have used 'give'. –  Kris Oct 18 '12 at 14:26
    
@Kris, Edited to remove that sentence. It was correct, but maybe not clear, and not worth elaborating on. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/give_6 –  JLG Oct 19 '12 at 0:22

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