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!

  • Yesterday's addition to the phrase by Sania Mirza in her tweet in response to the cringworthy ads on both sides of India Pakistan border is rather confusing. She says "...get a grip or get a life !!". It is not clear what she means by 'get a life.' Will someone care to explain the extended part of the phrase?
    – charwalk
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 5:31

5 Answers 5


"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.


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.


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

Get a grip, guys!


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.


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?

  • 1
    Can you cite any reference for this, or is it speculation on your part?
    – choster
    Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 5:21
  • I very much doubt this.
    – Jim
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 5:58

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