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Each time I encounter these turns of phrase, I wonder whether I'm quite grasping the meaning.

Edward Norton says in an interview that

the hardest part was getting it together

as he talks about the filmmaking process.

In Supernatural, Sam says to Dean:

"Dude, get it together."

It's pretty easy to infer what "it" means from context. I am familiar with expressions like pull/get/hold yourself together, get your act together, get your shit together, and so forth.

Is that what the function of "it" is, substituting for all those concepts, as if the speaker couldn't be bothered to use the entire phrase?

  • "it" would need to be inferred from context. Is "it" any less specific than "sh*t"? – MikeJRamsey56 Nov 7 '17 at 23:43
  • Come to think of it, it isn't. If "it" is called a "dummy", because it doesn't carry an actual meaning of its own, than the same goes for " shit", who could replace almost anything , especially unwanted or negative. Right? – Daniel Nov 8 '17 at 7:08
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Yes, "get it together" does have the same meaning as the sentences you listed. Depending on context however, it could mean anything from "get yourself organized" to "pull yourself together" or "quit acting crazy or out of control". I believe that "hold it together" has different meaning though, more related to emotions. For example, "When my boss was yelling at me, I did my best to hold it together", or "I wanted to laugh when the lady fell down, but I held it together".

  • Sorry, Daniel; if it’s easy to infer what it means, what are you asking? Broadly, get(ting) it together combines pull/get/hold yourself together; get your act/shit together and so forth with whatever you think or feel or need to do about any of those. Pull yourself/get your stuff together is purely about you and your attitude. Get it together blends them with whatever the subject is. – Robbie Goodwin Nov 8 '17 at 21:46

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