Understanding the Idiom: "get with the times" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “get with the times”

The phrase “get with the times” is a common idiom in English that encourages someone to adopt modern practices or ideas. This expression has been used for decades, but its origins can be traced back to early 20th-century America.

During this time, technology was rapidly advancing, and society was changing at an unprecedented rate. Many people were resistant to these changes and clung to traditional ways of life. The phrase “get with the times” emerged as a way to encourage people to embrace progress and adapt to new circumstances.

As time went on, the idiom became more widely used and took on broader meanings. Today, it can refer not only to technological advancements but also social attitudes and cultural norms.

In popular culture, the phrase has been used in various contexts ranging from music lyrics to political speeches. It continues to be a relevant expression today as society continues to evolve at a rapid pace.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “get with the times”

The idiom “get with the times” is a popular phrase used to encourage someone to change their outdated ways and adapt to current trends or technologies. This idiomatic expression can be used in various contexts, from personal relationships to professional settings.

There are several variations of this idiom that convey similar meanings, such as “keep up with the times,” “move with the times,” or “stay current.” These phrases all suggest that it is important to stay informed about new developments and changes in order to remain relevant and successful.

In some cases, this idiom may also be used sarcastically or humorously, particularly when someone is resistant to change. For example, if an older person refuses to use a smartphone because they prefer traditional methods of communication, someone might say jokingly: “Come on grandpa, get with the times!”

This idiom can also be applied in broader societal contexts. For instance, if a country has outdated laws or policies that do not align with modern values or practices, people might criticize its leaders by saying they need to “get with the times.”

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “get with the times”


Some common synonyms for “get with the times” include:

  • Adapt to change
  • Keep up with the latest trends
  • Merge into modernity
  • Embrace new ideas
  • Stay relevant in today’s world


The opposite of “getting with the times” would be:

  • Resisting change and progress
  • Holding onto outdated beliefs or practices
  • Lagging behind current trends
  • Avoiding innovation and new ideas
  • Failing to evolve with changing times

Practical Exercises for Keeping Up with Modern Times

Exercise 1: Identify the Context

Read a few articles or watch videos on current events, technology advancements, or popular culture. Try to identify instances where people use the phrase “get with the times.” Take note of who is saying it, why they are saying it, and what message they are trying to convey.

Exercise 2: Practice Using the Idiom

Think of a situation where someone is not keeping up with modern trends or technologies. Write a short dialogue between two people where one person uses the idiom “get with the times” to encourage their friend or colleague to adapt. Use appropriate vocabulary and expressions related to modern trends and technologies.

By practicing these exercises regularly, you can become more confident in using idioms like “get with the times” in your everyday conversations. Remember that staying informed about current events and technological advancements can also help you stay relevant in today’s fast-paced world.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “get with the times”

When using idioms, it’s important to understand their meaning and usage in context. The idiom “get with the times” is commonly used to encourage someone to modernize their thinking or behavior. However, there are some common mistakes that people make when using this phrase.

Mistake #1: Using it inappropriately

One common mistake is using the idiom “get with the times” in situations where it doesn’t apply. For example, telling someone to “get with the times” when they’re expressing a personal preference or opinion that differs from your own can come across as dismissive and disrespectful.

Mistake #2: Being too forceful

Another mistake is being too forceful when using this idiom. While it’s meant to encourage change, coming on too strong can be off-putting and may cause resistance instead of progress.

To avoid these mistakes, it’s important to use the idiom “get with the times” thoughtfully and appropriately. Consider whether it truly applies to the situation at hand and approach any necessary changes with sensitivity and respect for others’ perspectives.

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