Go Big or Go Home – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

Photo of author

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.

I love idiomatic phrases; they’re so fun to use. But I also enjoy learning about their root meanings and where they originated from. The common phrase go big or go home is one we’ve all heard and used before, but let’s take a look at its meaning and how you can use it in speech and writing.

Go Big or Go Home Meaning

httpsgrammarist.comidiomgo big or go home

Go big or go home is a widely used philosophical idea that encourages us to be bold and brave, like with sports or gambling. The idea is that you either win big or lose big; there’s no in-between.

Origin of the Phrase Go Big or Go Home

The phrase is said to have originated as a sales slogan in the 1990s. A motorcycle parts company in Southern California incorporated the term go big or go home in its packaging for some oversized Harley Davidson pipes.

But I’ve found earlier usage of the phrase that dates back to the early 1900s in Zora Neale’s collection of essays, You Don’t Know Us Negroes, where she uses a slightly different version of the phrase “go hard or go home,” which pretty much has the same meaning and context.

You can use it as “go big or go home,” but the idiom is hyphenated when used as an adjective before a noun, as in go-big-or-go-home.

Is It Get Big or Go Home or Go Big or Go Home?

I was pretty sure of this answer, but I did some digging around just to be certain, and it’s definitely “go big or go home.” Get big or go home still sounds like it would work, and you’d probably get away with it in an informal situation. But to be correct, use the latter.

Is It Go Hard or Go Home or Go Big or Go Home?

Go Hard or Go Home vs Go Big or Go Home Ngram
Go Hard or Go Home and Go Big or Go Home Usage Trend.

Both are commonly used. While go big or go home is more common and applies to pretty much any situation, go hard or go home is more often used in sports contexts.

Go Big or Go Home Synonyms

Use any of these words or phrases in place of go big, or go home.

Using Go Big or Go Home in a Sentence

  • I know the project is challenging, but we must go big or go home if we want to succeed.
  • If you’re going to compete in the race, go big or go home.
  • We came all the way to Atlanta to have fun and win money, so it’s a go-big-or-go-home situation at this point.
  • I’ve invested an upfront cost of $100k in this business idea. It’s go big or go home.
  • My father always used to say go big or go home when I was worried about taking risks.

Are You Gonna Go Big or Go Home?

The idiomatic phrase has been used for years and can be said in several different ways. But, underneath it all, they all mean the same thing; without risk, there’s no reward. I hope my guide has helped explain its meaning and usage!

Want to have more idioms in your arsenal? Check out some others we covered: