I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Resident Patient by Arthur Conan Doyle:

"Mr Blessington came in from his walk shortly afterwards, but I did not say anything to him upon the subject, for, to tell the truth, I have got in the way of late of holding as little communication with him as possible".

I found a definition of "get in the way":

To obstruct or interfere with something.

but it doesn't seem to suit the meaning intended by the author.

2 Answers 2


The expression is to get in(to) the way of doing something. It is British English and it means

to start to do something regularly

  • The women had got into the way of going up on the deck every evening. (Longman)

FreeDictionary also has an entry for the expression, pointing out that you can also get out of the way of doing something:

get into/out of the way of something/of doing something: become used to doing something/lose the habit of doing something

Here is another example from classic British literature:

She ate a little bit, and said anxiously to herself, "which way? which way?" and laid her hand on the top of her head to feel which way it was growing, and was quite surprised to find that she remained the same size: to be sure this is what generally happens when one eats cake, but Alice had got into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the way things to happen, and it seemed quite dull and stupid for things to go on in the common way. (Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures Under Ground)

ADDITION: Prompted by a helpful comment, I will add that indeed, the phrase get in(to) the habit of is more common nowadays:

enter image description here

The phrase is more common in BrE than in AmE, but it is definitely used on both sides of the Atlantic. The interesting thing, however, is that get into the habit of is preferred in BrE, while get in the habit of is preferred in AmE.

  • 1
    British English maybe, but I've never heard it said before - it's quite likely an archaic form (more commonly "get in(to) the habit of" nowadays.
    – Philip C
    Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 9:04
  • 2
    It is definitely literary. Never heard it in speech either. But I doubt it is archaic. It's still used today. The fellows there had got into the way of driving cattle to northern markets and selling them, and in that way we could at least see our friends once every year. (The Lost Nugget, Juvenile Stories, by Harry Castlemon · 2016).
    – fev
    Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 9:17
  • 1
    The phrase "get in(to) the habit of" is basically equivalent, and is a lot more common in American English. (Possibly British as well?) Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 11:53
  • @fev: many supposedly archaic phrases are still used occasionally in regional dialects. I suspect this is one of those. The OED says now rare, which presumably means it was much more common in the 19th century. Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 16:00
  • @PeterShor That it is rare, I agree. But I wouldn't say it is archaic.
    – fev
    Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 16:08

While I have not been able to find citations for backing, it appears that this is a Victorian Briticism that might be written in more modern language as “...to tell the truth, I have gotten into the habit recently of talking to him as little as possible.”

The specific phrase, I have got in the way of maps to I have gotten into the habit of.

  • In British English, "gotten" became obsolete 400 years ago. The only place you will find it today is in the 1611 King James translation of the bible.
    – alephzero
    Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 12:52
  • 6
    @alephzero - It's current in American English; I'm American. Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 13:14
  • It is current in American English but you have said that "I have got in the way of" meaning "I have got into the habit of" was always a British rather than an American expression. Therefore to say that the modern equivalent includes the word 'gotten' is incorrect since few if any British people would use it.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 8:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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