Understanding the Idiom: "drive away" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English

The idiom “drive away” is a commonly used phrase in English that conveys a specific meaning. It is often used to describe situations where someone or something is being forced to leave or move away from a particular place or situation. This can be due to various reasons, such as fear, discomfort, or even physical force.

The term “drive” in this context does not necessarily refer to driving a vehicle but rather implies an action of pushing or compelling someone/something to go away. The word “away” emphasizes the direction of movement and reinforces the idea that something is leaving its current position.

Example: When the rain started pouring heavily, we had to drive away from our picnic spot.

The idiom “drive away” can also be used figuratively in situations where someone tries to push negative thoughts or emotions out of their mind. In this sense, it means trying to overcome negative feelings by actively working towards positive ones.

Understanding the proper usage and meaning of idioms like “drive away” can help improve one’s communication skills and make conversations more effective. By knowing how these phrases are used in different contexts, you can better express yourself and understand others’ intentions more clearly.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “drive away”

The idiom “drive away” has been a part of the English language for centuries. Its origins can be traced back to ancient times when people used horses and carriages as their primary mode of transportation. In those days, it was common for travelers to encounter obstacles on their journey, such as wild animals or bandits. To protect themselves from these dangers, they would use whips or other tools to drive them away.

Over time, this concept evolved into a more metaphorical meaning. The phrase “drive away” began to be used in a figurative sense, referring to situations where someone is trying to push something unpleasant or unwanted out of their life. For example, if someone is dealing with a difficult person or situation, they might say that they need to “drive it away” in order to move forward.

In modern times, the idiom “drive away” is still commonly used in everyday conversation. It has become an integral part of our language and culture, reflecting our desire for control over our lives and surroundings.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “drive away”

When it comes to idioms, there are often multiple ways to use them in conversation. The same goes for the idiom “drive away.” While its general meaning is clear – to force someone or something to leave a certain place – there are several variations that can be used depending on the context.

1. Literal Meaning

The most straightforward way to use “drive away” is in its literal sense. For example, you might say “I drove away from the gas station after filling up my car.” In this case, the phrase simply means physically leaving a location by driving.

2. Figurative Meaning

Another common usage of “drive away” is in a figurative sense. For instance, you might say “Her negative attitude drives people away from her.” Here, the phrase implies that someone’s behavior or actions are causing others to distance themselves emotionally or socially.

Note: It’s important to note that while these two variations have different meanings, they both involve some form of departure or separation.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “drive away”

Synonyms Antonyms
Chase off Attract
Push back Pull in
Banish Welcome
Cultural Insights:

In Western cultures, “drive away” is often used to describe situations where someone or something is being pushed out or rejected. For example, a person may drive away their friends by constantly complaining or being negative. In contrast, in Eastern cultures such as Japan, there is a concept called “amae,” which refers to an emotional dependence on others. In this context, driving someone away can be seen as a violation of social norms.


– She tried to drive away her fears by listening to music.
– The new policy could potentially drive away customers.
– He was afraid that his behavior would drive his girlfriend away.


Some synonyms of “drive away” include chase off, push back, and banish. These words convey the idea of pushing something or someone away.


The antonyms of “drive away” are words that convey the opposite meaning, such as attract and welcome.

Understanding cultural insights related to the idiom can help in using it appropriately in different contexts. For example, while driving someone away may be seen as a negative thing in some cultures, it may not necessarily be so in others.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “drive away”

Exercise 1: Write a short paragraph using the idiom “drive away” in context. Try to include at least two examples of how this phrase can be used in different situations.

Exercise 2: Watch a movie or TV show and identify instances where characters use the idiom “drive away”. Take note of the context in which it is used and try to understand its meaning based on that context.

Exercise 3: Practice speaking with a partner using the idiom “drive away” in conversation. Choose different scenarios such as discussing a bad experience or trying to cheer someone up. This exercise will help you become more comfortable using idiomatic expressions in real-life situations.

By completing these practical exercises, you will gain a deeper understanding of how to use the idiom “drive away” effectively and appropriately. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “drive away”

When using idioms, it is important to understand their meanings and usage in context. The idiom “drive away” is often used to describe the act of forcing someone or something to leave a place or situation. However, there are common mistakes that people make when using this idiom.

One mistake is using “drive away” in situations where it does not apply. For example, saying “I drove away my fear” may sound incorrect because fear cannot physically be driven away like a person or object can.

Another mistake is using the idiom too literally. For instance, saying “I drove away my friend from the party” may imply that you physically forced your friend out of the party instead of simply causing them to leave due to your actions or behavior.

Additionally, some people confuse “drive off” with “drive away”, which can lead to confusion and miscommunication. While both phrases involve leaving a place, they have different connotations and should be used appropriately.

To avoid these common mistakes when using the idiom “drive away”, it is important to fully understand its meaning and usage in context. It may also be helpful to practice using other similar idioms correctly as well.

Common Mistakes Correct Usage
Using in inappropriate situations “The bad weather drove us away from our picnic.”
Taking too literal interpretation “My positive attitude drove my team’s success.”
Confusing with similar idioms “I had to drive off quickly before traffic got worse.”


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