We’re not in Kansas anymore

The idiom we’re not in Kansas anymore has an interesting origin. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, 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 have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, hit the nail on the head, kick the bucket, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. 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. We will examine the meaning of the idiom we’re not in Kansas anymore, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

We’re not in Kansas anymore is a phrase that means we have stepped outside of what is considered normal, we have entered a place or circumstance that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable, we have found ourselves in a strange situation. The idiom we’re not in Kansas anymore was first used in the movie The Wizard of Oz, a 1939 film based on the L. Frank Baum book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. In the story, Dorothy Gale is caught in a tornado that transports her and her dog, Toto, into a magical land called Oz. The line, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” summed up the fact that not only did Dorothy travel away from home physically, but she had traveled to a new reality where anything was possible. Though the movie premiered in 1939, it was a staple of holiday programming on television through the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s in America. The idiom we’re not in Kansas anymore did not become popular until the 1980s.


From the moment the door is opened by the heavily made up Riff Raff (Brad Foster Reinking), and the slinky, slithering Phantoms swarm around them, Brad and Janet begin to realize that they’re not in Kansas anymore, so to speak. (Broadway World)

“We’re not in Kansas anymore,” he joked in a release announcing the venture. (Furniture Today Magazine)

From the hallucinogenic color of Laurie Hogin’s allegorical paintings to the mythic mutations of Robin Whiteman, we are keenly aware that we’re not in Kansas anymore. (The Shepherd Express)

Yup! That is the first moment where you think, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” (Houstonia Magazine)

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