Go to seed is an idiom that has been in use for hundreds of years. 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 go to seed, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.
To go to seed means to deteriorate, to become shabby or shop-worn, to become unhealthy or unattractive due to inattention. Related phrases are goes to seed, gone to seed, going to seed, went to seed. The expression go to seed was first used in a literal sense to describe a plant that has become neglected or is at the end of its life cycle, when it produces seeds and then dies. The phrase go to seed to describe a person, item, or organization that has deteriorated due to inattention came into used in the latter-1700s. The phrase is sometimes rendered as run to seed.
He can hold in his mind the fact that he is going to seed, but hold it apart, make of it a fog-enshrouded islet many miles offshore of the continent of what he consciously knows. (GQ Magazine)
Tucker has gone to seed in the intervening six years, haunted by his failure to catch The Brit (Luke Goss) with the goods. (The HOllywood Reporter)
I’m dealing with all kinds of situations that you can imagine happening in south Alabama where the neighborhood has gone to seed. (The Cleveland Magazine)