Go to seed is a phrase we use to describe something or someone past its prime or in a state of decline or deterioration. Not a pretty picture, is it? But what’s the deal with the seeds, and how did they end up in this idiom? I’ve got all the details, so let’s get to it!
What Does Go to Seed Mean?
The phrase go to seed sounds like a gardening mishap, doesn’t it? While you’re not wrong, this phrase isn’t all about flora and fauna if we’re talking about idioms.
It’s used to describe when something or someone has severely declined in quality or condition—a bit like an overgrown garden that was once stunning but is now untidy and filled with overgrown plants that have gone to seed.
Origin and Etymology of the Go to Seed Idiom
The whole idea of go to seed began in the 1700s and took its cue from the gardening world. When plants go to seed, they stop flowering and start producing seeds, often losing their earlier beauty in the process.
Nowadays, this phrase has been adapted to describe anything that’s seen better days, be it an untidy room, a shabby dress, or even a city that has lost its former glory.
My husband and I are big gardening nuts. We collect heirloom seeds every year when our many plants have gone to seed. It’s not always a bad thing. It just means the plant is no longer producing fruit or flowers; it’s gone passed that and is making seeds for the next year.
Synonyms to Use Instead of Go to Seed
Maybe the plant-based idiom isn’t for you. No worries! I’ve got some synonyms you can use instead:
- Fallen into disrepair
- Run down
Using Go to Seed Idiom in a Sentence
- Without proper maintenance over the years, my old car has gone to seed.
- Look at this room! It’s completely gone to seed since you last cleaned it, Charlie!
- My grandmother thinks the neighborhood has gone to seed since the new construction began.
- My exercise routine has gone to seed ever since I started working late nights and early mornings.
- The city park will go to seed if we can’t get the proper funding to keep it up.
- My old college has gone to seed; the buildings are now in terrible condition, even crumbling in some areas.
- With no tenants for years, the house next door will eventually go to seed.
- Since he lost his job, my dad’s self-care routine has completely gone to seed.
- The once prestigious golf course has gone to seed, with overgrown fairways and unkempt greens.
- I knew Jane’s baking skills would go to seed if she stopped practicing.
Nurturing Your Vocabulary
Now that you know what it means when something has gone to seed, you can use this phrase to express a decline in the condition or quality of just about anything. So, if you ever notice anything looking a little worse for wear, just say it’s gone to seed! Grammarist has a ton of guides for idioms and other phrases, so take a moment to bulk up your vocabulary.