Get out of hand

Most Important Level 2

"get out of hand" / "be out of hand"

Meaning: to be out of control and difficult to control; to be crazy and unable to be controlled

Why does it mean that?

When something is in our hand, we are able to control out. However, once something leaves our hand, we cannot control or manage it anymore. So, if a situation or thing "gets out of hand" that means it has become chaotic and impossible or very difficult to control.

When do we use it?

We usually this when talking about a situation, thing, or people that have become crazy and hard to control or manage. This idiom implies that the situation is chaotic or crazy.

In this expression, "get" has the same meaning as "become". So, we use these expressions when a situation has changed from stable and predictable to unstable and crazy.

How do we use it?

We can use "get out of hand" to show that a situation has become chaotic. We put it after the situation or event. We can use it in any verb tense.
  • The party is getting out of hand. I think the police will come.
  • The situation got out of hand after you left.
  • If we do not do something, the problem might get out of hand.
  • We can control it now, but if we do not do something soon, then it will get out of hand.
  • The class was getting out of hand so the teacher started to yell.
  • Food prices are getting out of hand. The government needs to do something.
We can also use "be out of hand". This shows the state of the situation or thing.
  • The situation was out of hand, but we have it under control now.
  • The political situation in this country is out of hand.
Example English Conversation

A) Why did you leave the party?
B) It was getting out of hand, and I didn't feel comfortable.
A) I understand. There were two fights after you left.
B) See. I hate when things get out of hand like that.

Adding expressions and idioms to your vocabulary will help you become a better English speaker. You do not need to learn a million expressions or idioms at one time! If you study new English expressions and idioms steadily and consistently, then your vocabulary will get better and better. Use these free English lessons to expand your vocabulary and learn useful English idioms, slang, and expressions.