Understanding the Idiom: "get one's skates on" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
  • get a move on
  • hurry up

When it comes to idioms, there are countless expressions that can be difficult to understand for non-native speakers. One such idiom is “get one’s skates on”. This phrase is commonly used in British English and has a specific meaning that may not be immediately clear to those unfamiliar with it.

The Origin of the Idiom

Like many idioms, “get one’s skates on” has an interesting origin story. The expression dates back to the early 1900s when ice skating was a popular pastime in Britain. Skaters would often have multiple pairs of skates, each with different blades for different types of ice. When someone wanted to skate quickly, they would need to switch to their fastest pair of skates – hence the phrase “get your skates on”.

The Meaning Behind the Idiom

Today, “get one’s skates on” is used as a colloquial way of telling someone to hurry up or move quickly. It can be used in a variety of contexts, from encouraging someone to finish a task quickly at work, to urging friends or family members to get ready faster before going out.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “get one’s skates on”

The idiom “get one’s skates on” is a popular expression used to encourage someone to hurry up or move quickly. The origins of this phrase can be traced back to the 19th century when ice skating was a popular pastime in Europe and North America.

During this time, people would often wear special boots with blades attached to them called ice skates. These skates allowed individuals to glide across frozen bodies of water and enjoy the winter weather. However, as more people began participating in this activity, it became necessary for individuals to move quickly in order to avoid collisions with other skaters.

As a result, the phrase “get your skates on” was born as a way of encouraging individuals to move quickly and avoid any potential accidents. Over time, this expression has evolved into its current form and is now used in various contexts beyond just ice skating.

Today, “get one’s skates on” is commonly used in everyday conversation as a way of urging someone to hurry up or get moving quickly. It has become an integral part of English language idioms and continues to be used by people around the world.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “get one’s skates on”

When it comes to idioms, there are often variations in their usage depending on the context or region. The idiom “get one’s skates on” is no exception. While its meaning remains consistent across different English-speaking countries, there are subtle differences in how it is used.

Variations in Usage

In British English, “get one’s skates on” is commonly used as a way to tell someone to hurry up or move quickly. For example, if you were running late for an appointment, someone might say “you better get your skates on if you want to make it!” In this context, the idiom refers specifically to ice skating and implies that the person needs to move as fast as they would while skating.

In American English, however, the same phrase has a slightly different connotation. While it can still be used as a way of telling someone to hurry up, it is more commonly used when referring to getting started or taking action. For example, if you were procrastinating on a project at work and your boss said “it’s time to get your skates on,” they would mean that you need to start working immediately.

Usage in Popular Culture

The idiom “get one’s skates on” has also made appearances in popular culture over the years. In 2010, British singer-songwriter Adele released a song called “Don’t You Remember,” which features the lyrics: “I know I’m not the only one / Who regrets what she’s done / But just give me a chance / And I’ll put my skates on.”

Similarly, in an episode of the hit TV show Friends from 1998 entitled “The One with Joey’s Porsche,” Chandler uses the phrase when trying to convince Joey to hurry up and get ready: “Come on, Joe, get your skates on! We gotta go!”


Variations in Usage Usage in Popular Culture
In British English, it refers specifically to moving quickly as if ice skating. Adele’s song “Don’t You Remember” features the lyrics “And I’ll put my skates on.”
In American English, it implies getting started or taking action. Chandler uses the phrase in an episode of Friends entitled “The One with Joey’s Porsche.”

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “get one’s skates on”

When it comes to expressing urgency or the need to hurry up, there are various idioms that people use in English. One of these is “get one’s skates on”, which means to move quickly or hurry up. However, this idiom is not the only way to convey a sense of urgency.


There are several synonyms for “get one’s skates on” that can be used interchangeably depending on the context and tone of the conversation. Some examples include:

  • Rush
  • Hurry
  • Bustle
  • Dash
  • Scramble
  • Hightail it
  • Speed up
  • Pick up the pace


On the other hand, there are also antonyms for “get one’s skates on” that express a lack of urgency or slowness. These include:

  • Lollygagging
  • (To spend time aimlessly)

  • Dawdling
  • (To waste time by being slow)

  • Tarrying
  • (To delay unnecessarily)

    Note: The above-mentioned words should not be confused with procrastination.

    Cultural Insights

    “Get one’s skates on” is a British idiom that originated from the sport of ice-skating. It was first used in the 1920s and became popular during World War II when it was used to urge people to hurry up with their work. The idiom is still commonly used in British English today, but may not be as familiar to speakers of other varieties of English.

    Interestingly, the idiom has also been adapted into other languages such as French (“mettre les patins”), Spanish (“ponerse las pilas”) and German (“in die Puschen kommen”).

    Practical Exercises for the Idiom “get one’s skates on”

    Are you ready to put your knowledge of the idiom “get one’s skates on” into practice? Here are some practical exercises to help you become more comfortable using this expression in everyday conversation.

    Exercise 1: Role-play

    Get together with a friend and role-play a situation where someone needs to hurry up. Use the idiom “get your skates on” in your dialogue. Try different scenarios, such as getting ready for work, catching a train, or meeting someone at a specific time.


    Person A: “We need to leave in five minutes if we want to catch the train.”

    Person B: “Okay, I’ll get my skates on and finish packing.”

    Exercise 2: Writing prompts

    Write short stories or dialogues using the idiom “get your skates on.” You can use these writing prompts:

    – Your boss calls you into their office and tells you that they need an urgent report by the end of the day.

    – You’re running late for an important job interview.

    – Your friends are waiting for you at a restaurant, but you’re stuck in traffic.


    “I was already ten minutes late when I finally arrived at the restaurant. My friends were sitting outside, looking impatient. ‘Sorry guys,’ I said as I approached them. ‘I got stuck in traffic.’ My friend Sarah looked at me sternly and said, ‘Next time, make sure you get your skates on.'”

    • Tips:
    • Practice using idioms like this frequently so that it becomes natural.
    • Listen carefully when native speakers use idioms like this.
    • If possible try watching movies or TV shows which include these types of idioms.

    Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “get one’s skates on”

    When using idioms in conversation or writing, it is important to use them correctly in order to avoid confusion or misunderstandings. The idiom “get one’s skates on” is no exception. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using this popular phrase:

    Mistake #1: Using the wrong tense

    The correct form of this idiom is “get your skates on,” not “got your skates on.” It refers to taking action in the present moment, rather than something that has already happened.

    Mistake #2: Misunderstanding the meaning

    This idiom means to hurry up or move quickly, as if you were wearing ice skates and needed to get somewhere fast. It does not refer specifically to skating or ice skating.

    Mistake #3: Overusing the idiom

    While this expression can be useful for emphasizing urgency, using it too often can make it lose its impact. Try switching up your phrasing with other similar expressions like “hurry up” or “move quickly.”

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