Understanding the Idiom: "put it there" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
  • give me five
  • slap me five

The idiom can be interpreted as a way to seal an agreement or show mutual respect between two parties. It can also be used to acknowledge someone’s effort or achievement. The phrase has become so ingrained in everyday language that its origins are often forgotten.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “put it there”

The idiom “put it there” is a common phrase used in everyday conversation. It has become an integral part of the English language, but where did this expression originate from? In order to understand its historical context, we need to delve into the origins of this phrase.

The phrase “put it there” dates back to the early 20th century when it was commonly used as a friendly greeting or farewell gesture. The act of putting one’s hand out for a handshake became synonymous with saying goodbye or hello. Over time, this simple gesture evolved into the more complex idiom that we know today.

As society changed and technology advanced, so too did the usage of this phrase. With people becoming more reliant on electronic communication methods such as email and texting, physical gestures like shaking hands have become less common. However, the idiom “put it there” still remains relevant in modern-day conversations.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “put it there”

When using idioms in conversation, it’s important to understand not only their literal meaning but also how they are commonly used. The idiom “put it there” is no exception. This phrase can be used in a variety of situations, and its meaning can change depending on the context.


One common usage of “put it there” is as a friendly greeting or farewell gesture. It can be accompanied by a handshake or fist bump, indicating agreement or solidarity between two people. In this context, the phrase is often used to show respect and camaraderie.

Another way that “put it there” can be used is to request something from someone else. For example, if you need help with a task, you might say “Can you put it there for me?” This usage implies that you trust the other person to complete the task correctly and efficiently.


There are many variations of the idiom “put it there,” each with its own unique meaning. For example, some people might use the phrase “give me five” instead of “put it there.” This variation involves slapping hands together instead of shaking hands or bumping fists.

Another variation is adding an object at the end of the phrase such as “Put her/him/them/it here”. This indicates where someone should stand or situate themselves within a particular space.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “put it there”


  • “Shake on it” – an informal way of agreeing on something by shaking hands.
  • “Deal” – a more formal term used in business or negotiations to signify an agreement.
  • “Agree to terms” – a phrase often used in legal documents or contracts as a way of stating mutual acceptance.


  • “No deal” – when parties cannot come to an agreement.
  • “Back out” – when one party reneges on their agreement or withdraws from the negotiation process.

Cultural Insights:

The idiom “put it there” is commonly used in Western cultures as a friendly gesture of agreement. However, in some cultures such as Japan and Korea, physical contact during business negotiations may be considered inappropriate. It’s important to understand cultural norms before using this expression in international settings.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “put it there”

  • Exercise 1: Write down five different situations where you can use the idiom “put it there”. For each situation, write a sentence using the idiom.
  • Exercise 2: Role-play with a partner using the idiom “put it there” in different scenarios. This exercise will help you practice how to use this phrase naturally and appropriately.
  • Exercise 3: Watch a movie or TV show and identify instances where characters use the idiom “put it there”. Take note of how they use it and try to understand its meaning in context.
  • Exercise 4: Create flashcards with sentences that contain the idiom “put it there” on one side and their meanings on the other side. Use these flashcards as a study tool to memorize how to use this phrase correctly.

By completing these practical exercises, you will gain confidence in using the idiomatic expression “put it there” effectively. Remember that practice makes perfect!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “put it there”

When using idioms, it’s important to understand their meanings and usage. However, even if you know what an idiom means, you can still make mistakes when using it in conversation or writing. This is especially true for the idiom “put it there”, which has a few common mistakes that people often make.

Using the Wrong Pronoun

One mistake people make when using “put it there” is using the wrong pronoun. The correct pronoun to use with this idiom is “it”. For example, if someone hands you something and says “put it there”, they are asking you to place that item in a specific location. If you were to say “put them there” instead of “put it there”, you would be making a mistake because the idiom only refers to one object.

Misunderstanding Context

Another common mistake when using this idiom is misunderstanding its context. While “put it there” generally means placing an object in a specific location, its meaning can change depending on the situation. For example, if someone says “I’m sorry for your loss, put it there”, they are not referring to an actual object but rather offering condolences by shaking hands or giving a hug.

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