gallows humour
using humour and making jokes when life appears hopeless

– examples of gallows humour:

‘My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death; one or the other of us has got to go.”
(Oscar Wilde, on his deathbed)

‘You see, a laugh and a smile and all of a sudden the job doesn’t seem quite so bad after all, does it Sir?”
(from ‘Blackadder’, said by the firing squad as they are about to kill Blackadder)


game plan
a plan to win, or bring about success

– examples

The team didn’t panic; they just stuck to their game plan and waited for the other team to tire.

The reason the company failed was, simply, they had an unrealistic game plan going into the market.


gather pace
(also ‘gather speed’)
to start gaining speed, or momentum

– examples

Their Presidential bid began to gather pace after he made a speech on live TV; within 5 months he was the favourite to win.

At first the project didn’t seem to be going anywhere, but they kept working and soon it began to gather speed.


get a grip (on something)
to gain control of something that was getting out of control, especially emotions

– examples

The boss told the team they had to get a grip on the situation before things got out of control.

“Get a grip, man!” (told to someone going hysterical)


get away with murder
to have done something really bad, and received no punishment despite people knowing you did it

– examples

When he was a child he used to get away with murder – the punishments his mother handed out were absolutely useless.

United are getting away with murder out there: they are fouling everyone, but the referee isn’t doing anything.


get your hands dirty
(1) choosing to get involved with physical or dirty work, especially if one doesn’t have to
(2) to do something that may dirty your character

– examples

Dave, despite being the boss, isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and help the staff out, a fact that they really appreciate.

Anne decided there was no other choice: she had to forget about her ideals and get her hands dirty. That was the only way she would get out of there.


get (your) teeth into (something)
to eagerly start doing something challenging

– examples

As soon as he gave out the homework, the professor could see which students would pass: there were some who tried to ignore it, and others who chose to get the teeth into it straight away.

I can’t wait to get my teeth into this new project.


give and take
a willingness to compromise in order to get what you want

– examples

The debate was quite interesting, with a good amount of give and take.

When negotiating a deal, there has to be some give and take; consider what you want, and what you are prepared to lose in order to get it.


give (somebody) a leg up
to help someone get to a hirer position that could not have been reached by themselves

– examples

Anne knows that she could do a better job than most of the leaders, if only someone would give her a leg up to help her get noticed.

Now that he is a millionaire, it would be easy to forget how it all began; but Dave is still friends with Mr Hughes, the man who gave him a leg up into a management position 20 years ago.


glass ceiling
a limit (usually in the workplace or path to success, and usually unfair) stopping someone from achieving more, but through which they can see others doing what they want to

– examples

For years women in this company were met with a glass ceiling, through which they could not pass. Finally, however, in 2001, Anne became the first member of the board, and things began to change.

It is definitely true that a glass ceiling is in place in this country for foreigners: they are allowed to do the work, and have titles that don’t mean much, but it is always a local who holds the money and makes the final decision.