Get out of Dodge

Get out of Dodge is an American idiom. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom get out of Dodge, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Get out of Dodge means to leave a place, especially in a hasty manner. The phrase get out of Dodge often is used with a qualifier, as in get the heck out of Dodge, or other phrases using stronger words. The expression get out of Dodge came into use during the mid-twentieth century in the United States and is a reference to the Old West town of Dodge City, Kansas. Dodge City, Kansas, was known as a “Wicked Little Town” because it was perched on the edge of the wild frontier. Buffalo hunters and then cowboys stopped in Dodge City for rest and relaxation, which was often wild and dangerous and involved saloons, gambling halls, brothels, and shoot-outs. Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson and their brothers were lawmen who famously kept the peace. By the turn of the twentieth century, settlers had moved into the area and Dodge City became a respectable hamlet. The legendary status of Dodge City was boosted when a radio serial set in Dodge City, Gunsmoke, came on the air in the 1950s and then made the transition to television, where it ran until the mid-1970s. The fictional lawman on the series, Marshal Dillon, was known for exhorting bad men to move on, or get out of Dodge.


So here we go again, attempting to “get out of Dodge” by tackling our first foray into steelhead salmon fishing — headed to a river on the east side of Lake Michigan this time. (The Daily Journal)

“When it got to be winter time, people wanted to get out of Dodge,” Greene said. (The Recorder)

As Mayor de Blasio prepared to get out of Dodge for the weekend, a police union boss issued a very “High Noon”-like ultimatum for him to quit by sundown. (The New York Post)

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