0

All my life, if a person wanted to do someone harm, their attitude was described as having it in for that person. Lately I have noticed that this has been turned around to having it out for a person.

When and why has this change taken place?

  • 1
    Perhaps coincidentally, I heard this exact problem just within the last week or two for the first time. I thought it might be a confusion with the phrase "having it out", or engaging in a necessary conflict. – aparente001 Dec 17 '16 at 6:37
  • 3
    Please provide more context. Where did you find this phrase? "Having it in" for someone and "having it out" with someone mean two different things. – Mick Dec 17 '16 at 6:38
  • Have it out with this meaning hasn't made it to OED yet (unsurprisingly) but it's not in Urban Dictionary either. In BrE the phrase would normally be "He's got it in for X," which doesn't change well into "He's got it out for X." But perhaps the change is connected to [imaginary] hit-man contracts. – Andrew Leach Dec 17 '16 at 9:48
  • In my experience, "have it out" means to carry through on the "have it in" impulse. Usually in something like "I had it out with Fred", meaning I had an argument with him (though it could imply fisticuffs), about an issue that had been brewing awhile. – Hot Licks Dec 17 '16 at 12:58
3

Have it in for (someone) meaning "to be determined to harm or criticize someone" is a well-established expression both in BrE and AmE and its usage, according to Ngram, does not appear to be waning.

Have it out for (someone) is also used with the same meaning, but its usage doesn't seem to be that common and I cannot find evidence it has surpassed that of "have it in for". Maybe its usage is increasing among younger people. My impression is that it may be confused with a similar expression "have it out with (someone) which has a different meaning and is by far more commonly used.

(The Free Dictionary)

  • 1
    Your second link is a great find. (When I heard someone use that phrase that way, I mistakenly thought they were misusing the phrase.) // I don't think OP meant that the variant is overtaking the primary phrase. Suggest you remove the part about "surpassed". – aparente001 Dec 18 '16 at 8:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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