I just saw a use of "come away" below, and felt that the phrase is rather strange. It seems almost malfunctioning because "come" suggests moving towards the current location and "away" suggests well, moving away from (or leaving) the current location. More "compatible" combinations seem to be "go away" or "get away"..

How is it that these two can be put together ("come" and "away")?

we will attempt to introduce error handling one piece at a time so that you'll come away with a solid working knowledge of how everything fits together.

Suppose the above is in a lecture, are you coming or leaving the place when you "come away with" something? Any historical origins for the usage?

  • You are coming with someone away from something or somewhere. Or you are coming toward something or somewhere and away from something or somewhere else.
    – Drew
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 2:42
  • It's a very old and well-established idiom. The meaning is pretty literal, though I suppose you can be confused by "come" -- basically it's saying when you "come back" from whatever the thing is you will "come with" the stated possession.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 2:59

2 Answers 2


"Come away" in this usage means to leave the place, as in "you'll leave with a solid working knowledge of how everything fits together".

  • CDO indicates that the full expression come away (with something) is an idiom: 'to ​leave a ​place or ​situation with the ​stated ​feeling, ​idea, ​condition, etc.: I ​recently ​spent about 90 ​minutes ​shopping on the ​Internet, and I came away ​empty-handed. / Some 39 ​percent said they came away with a more ​favorable ​view of the ​candidate. (This makes the question general reference.) Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 21:25

I do not know the origins, but it's a simpler way of saying something came with you as you left from somewhere.

If you start with the other uses for came/come away, it makes more sense. "The bark came away easily." "The dust came away from the table." "The peel came away from the fruit with great difficulty." In these cases, something is brought away from somewhere and coming toward you. "Come away from that ledge."

As you can see from your example, it does not have to be a physical place or thing. You can come to your current location after leaving a lecture from which you gained more knowledge.

Two ways to say the same thing: "You come away from a lecture with more knowledge." "More knowledge is taken with you when you leave a lecture."

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