Understanding the Idiom: "give notice" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English

The Importance of Understanding “give notice”

It is crucial to understand the implications of giving notice as it can have significant consequences for both parties involved. Failure to comply with proper notice periods can result in financial penalties or legal action. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the specific requirements outlined in contracts or agreements before giving notice.

Variations and Synonyms

The phrase “give notice” has several variations and synonyms that are commonly used in different contexts. Some examples include “terminate”, “resign”, “end”, “cancel”, and “notify”. Understanding these variations can help individuals communicate more effectively when discussing termination or ending contractual obligations.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “give notice”

The idiom “give notice” is a common phrase used in modern English to describe the act of informing someone that you are leaving or ending a contract. However, this phrase has its origins in historical contexts that date back centuries.

Throughout history, employment contracts were often informal agreements between employers and employees. Workers would agree to work for a certain period of time, and their employer would provide them with food, shelter, and wages in return. When an employee wanted to leave their job before the end of their contract, they were required to give notice to their employer.

This practice was formalized during the Industrial Revolution when factory workers began organizing into unions to demand better working conditions. Unions negotiated contracts with employers that included specific terms for giving notice when leaving a job.

Today, the concept of giving notice has evolved beyond just employment contracts. It is now commonly used in legal contexts such as rental agreements or service contracts. The idea remains the same: one party must inform another party that they intend to terminate an agreement.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “give notice”

The idiom “give notice” has a variety of uses and variations that are worth exploring. This phrase is commonly used in professional settings, but can also be applied to personal situations. Understanding the different ways this idiom can be used will help you communicate more effectively in both formal and informal contexts.

Variations in Professional Settings

In a professional setting, giving notice typically refers to an employee informing their employer that they intend to resign from their position. However, there are variations on how this can be done. Some employees may give two weeks’ notice as a courtesy to allow for time to find a replacement or transition responsibilities. Others may give immediate notice if they have found another job or have personal reasons for leaving abruptly.

Additionally, employers may also use the phrase “give notice” when terminating an employee’s contract or employment due to performance issues or other reasons.

Variations in Personal Situations

Outside of work, giving notice can refer to ending a lease agreement with a landlord or notifying roommates of plans to move out. It can also apply to ending relationships with romantic partners or friends by communicating intentions clearly and respectfully.

Variation Definition
Giving Notice at Work An employee informs their employer that they intend to resign from their position.
Giving Notice Immediately An employee gives immediate resignation without waiting for any period of time.
Giving Notice When Terminating Employment An employer informs an employee that their contract or employment is being terminated.
Giving Notice in Personal Situations Ending a lease agreement, notifying roommates of plans to move out, or ending relationships with romantic partners or friends.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “give notice”


  • Resign: This verb means to voluntarily leave a job or position.
  • Quit: Similar to resign, it denotes leaving a job or activity.
  • Hand in one’s resignation: A more formal way of saying “quit” or “resign.”
  • Tender one’s resignation: Another formal expression that implies submitting a written document with the intention of quitting.


  • Stay put: This phrase means to remain in one place or position instead of leaving it.
  • Stick around: Similar to stay put, it suggests staying in a particular location for an extended period.
  • Show up for work: The opposite of giving notice is showing up at work as usual without any intention of leaving soon.

Cultural insights:

In some cultures, giving notice is considered mandatory and respectful. For instance, in Japan, employees are expected to provide their employers with ample time before quitting. On the other hand, in Western countries like the United States and Canada, two weeks’ notice is customary but not always required by law.

Moreover, depending on the industry and company culture, giving too much notice may result in immediate termination. In contrast, failing to give sufficient warning can damage professional relationships and future references.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “give notice”

In order to truly understand and incorporate the idiom “give notice” into your vocabulary, it is important to practice using it in various contexts. The following exercises will provide practical opportunities for you to do just that.

Exercise 1: Role Play

Pair up with a partner and take turns acting out scenarios where one person needs to give notice. This could be in a work setting, such as resigning from a job, or in a personal setting, such as ending a lease on an apartment. Practice using the idiom naturally within these conversations.

Exercise 2: Writing Prompts

Write short stories or paragraphs using the idiom “give notice” in different ways. For example, write about someone who gives notice at their job but then decides not to leave after all. Or write about someone who receives notice from their landlord that they need to move out.


  • Try to use synonyms for “notice” (such as “resignation” or “termination”) in your exercises.
  • Pay attention to verb tenses when using this idiom – it is often used in past tense (“gave notice”), but can also be used in present tense (“I’m giving my boss notice today”).
  • If possible, practice with native English speakers or language exchange partners for feedback on how natural your usage of the idiom sounds.

Remember, practice makes perfect! By incorporating these exercises into your language learning routine, you’ll soon feel confident and comfortable using the idiom “give notice”.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “give notice”

When using the idiom “give notice”, it is important to be aware of common mistakes that can lead to misunderstandings or confusion. These mistakes can occur due to a lack of understanding of the context in which the idiom is used, or simply from incorrect usage.

One common mistake is using the phrase without specifying what kind of notice is being given. Depending on the situation, giving notice could refer to resigning from a job, ending a lease agreement, or even warning someone about impending danger. Failing to clarify this can lead to miscommunication and confusion.

Another mistake is assuming that giving notice always involves written documentation. While some situations may require formal written notices, others may only require verbal communication or even nonverbal cues such as body language. It’s important to understand the specific requirements for each situation before giving notice.

A third mistake is not providing enough advance notice when required. In many cases, there are legal or contractual obligations regarding how much advance notice must be given before taking certain actions such as ending a lease agreement or terminating employment. Failing to provide sufficient advance notice can result in legal consequences and damage relationships with others involved.

Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: