Get the Lead Out – Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

If you ever hear someone yell, “Get the lead out!” it simply means they’re urging someone to move faster. Contrary to how it sounds, it’s not about removing any actual lead; instead, it’s an idiomatic expression we use in English to encourage someone to speed up. I’ll touch on the history of this phrase and show you how to use it correctly.

What Is the Meaning of Get the Lead Out

Get the Lead Out – Meaning Origin

The phrase get the lead out is a rare idiom that means to hurry up or move faster. It’s commonly used in informal contexts, especially when someone needs to be prodded along or when someone is moving too slowly for the speaker’s liking. Maybe I’ll use this phrase the next time I’m perusing the aisles at the grocery store.

Different Tenses to Use

Like many idioms, get the lead out can be used in various tenses depending on the context:

  • Get the lead out (Imperative): Come on, get the lead out! We’re going to be late.
  • Gets the lead out (Present Simple): Whenever he realizes he’s late, he gets the lead out.
  • Got the lead out (Past Simple): She finally got the lead out and finished the report on time.
  • Getting the lead out (Present Continuous): I’m getting the lead out so that we can leave as soon as possible.

Get the Lead Out Origin and Etymology

Get the Lead Out Ngram
Get the lead out usage trend.

Like a lot of idioms we’ve taken into our language, there’s no true, exact origin for the phrase get the lead out. It did originate sometime in the 1800s and likely came from sailor or pirate jargon. Lead balls were used in cannons on ships, among other weapons and items. When they needed the ship to move faster, either in pursuit or running away, they’d toss the heaviest items overboard first, like the lead.

Synonyms for Get the Lead Out

Of course, there’s always another way to describe something. If you don’t want to use this idiom, try one of these alternative phrases instead.

  • Hustle
  • Make haste
  • Step on it
  • Speed up
  • Move it

Get the Lead Out Examples in a Sentence

Get the Lead Out – Meaning Origin 1

  • I wish he’d get the lead out and finish his part of the project.
  • The coach shouted at the team to get the lead out during the last lap.
  • We’re going to miss the bus if you don’t get the lead out!
  • He got the lead out when he realized the deadline was tomorrow.
  • She’s always late because she never gets the lead out.
  • During the peak hours, you’ve got to get the lead out to get a good seat.
  • They’re getting the lead out to finish the decorations before the party.
  • Let’s get the lead out and wrap up this meeting.
  • You better get the lead out if you want to catch the last train home.
  • The manager encouraged the employees to get the lead out to meet the sales target.

That’s Your Guide to Get the Lead Out

Now you’re fully geared up to use the phrase get the lead out in your daily life. Understanding idioms like this boosts your language proficiency and adds a fun twist to your conversations and writing. Want more? I’ve got a ton of other awesome idiom breakdowns just like this one right here on our site!