To get a word in edgewise means to manage to insert your point or comment in a conversation where someone else is dominating or talking incessantly. But does the phrase have any variations, and where did it actually start out? Let’s slice through this idiomatic puzzle to find out.
Is It Get a Word in Edgeways or Edgewise?
Actually, it’s both! The phrase is used in two forms — get a word in edgeways is more common in British English, and get a word in edgewise is more commonly used in American English. Both variations convey the same meaning, though.
When someone says they can’t get a word in edgewise, they’re trying to say that they feel excluded from a conversation because someone else is doing all the talking with little to no pause.
Origin and Etymology of Get a Word in Edgewise
The phrase originated in English sometime in the early 19th century. The term edgewise is a directional adverb that means in the direction of the edge or facing edge. In the context of this particular phrase, it alludes to the challenge of inserting (like sliding an edge) your words into a conversation dominated by another speaker.
Just think of a crowd of people at a concert. You’re trying to work your way through the crowd toward the bathrooms, and you have to move sideways to slip between the slight spaces left between people. That’s what you call edgewise or edgeways.
Synonyms for Get a Word in Edgewise
Here are a few alternative ways to say the idiom and still get the same message out there.
- Get a chance to speak
- Manage to speak
- Find an opportunity to talk
- Interject a comment
- Squeeze in a word
Using Get a Word in Edgewise in a Sentence
- During the meeting, he talked so much that I could barely get a word in edgewise.
- She’s so enthusiastic about the project; it’s hard to get a word in edgewise when she’s sharing her ideas.
- If you could stop interrupting, I might get a word in edgewise.
- During the debate, the moderator struggled to get a word in edgewise.
- The conversation was so heated no one else could get a word in edgewise.
- I wish I could have gotten a word in edgewise during the conference call.
- They are all such strong personalities that it’s challenging to get a word in edgewise.
- If you don’t let me get a word in edgewise, how can we have a conversation?
- The interview was more of a monologue; I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
- Every time we discuss this topic, you don’t let me get a word in edgewise.
Words Worth Their Weight
Now that you’ve learned about getting a word in edgewise, hopefully, you won’t find yourself in a situation where you struggle to do so. But if you do, you’ll know exactly how to express it, “I can’t get a word in edgewise!”