Go to pot

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Go to pot is an idiom that has been in use for hundreds of years. We will examine the meaning of the common saying go to pot, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Go to pot means something that has been ruined or something that has deteriorated, usually because of neglect. The expression go to pot was first used in a fairly literal sense in the 1500s, to describe meat that had been cut up in order to cook it in a pot. By the 1600s, go to pot gained its figurative meaning, describing something that has deteriorated or has been ruined. The imagery is of an animal that would soon be butchered for food; a journey to the food pot that could not be mitigated. Related phrases are goes to pot, gone to pot, went to pot, going to pot.


“I can’t see them letting us open up before Christmas time for it all to go to pot again, it will be January, I’m sure, before we will open.” (Northhampton Chronicle & Echo)

Harrod said the city has too much money invested at the expo to let it go to pot; that’s what he said he thinks has happened to it. (The Shawnee News-Star)

Then, by 1745 the formerly busy seaport of Joppa became a kind of backwater and the family fortunes went to pot. (The New Bern Sun Journal)