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Get a life is an idiom and catch phrase that has gained international usage. It is intended as a taunt, to indicate that the person being so addressed is devoting an inordinate amount of time to trivial or hopeless matters. The phrase has also appeared as a generally more emphatic variant of the taunt "get a job"[1][pageĀ needed] and implies the addressee needs to go out and make their way in the world, without being supported by outside sources such as parents or benefactors. It may also be directed at someone who is perceived as boring or single-minded; suggesting they acquire some other, more practical interests or hobbies and get dates, find a job, or move into their own home.

It is also applied to so-called workaholics and others who are perceived as dedicated to their work (out of "labor of love" as opposed to money or loyalty to the company) but not taking the time to relax or enjoy life. Sometimes the phrase is used to describe people who are viewed as officious or meddling in the affairs of others. It is another way of saying "get your own life", or "mind your own business".[2]

Documented early useEdit

  • 1983: The first Oxford English Dictionary citation is from a January 1983 Washington Post article: "Gross me out, I mean, Valley Girl was, like, ohmigod, it was last year, fer sure! I mean, get a life! Say what?"[3][specify]
  • 1986: Appears in Baby Anger page 48 as "Get a life, people of New Jersey!"[4]
  • 1986: The phrase was used by actor William Shatner in his appearance in a December episode of Saturday Night Live, in which he shows up at a Star Trek convention and implores a group of Trekkies who are obsessed with the details of Shatner's life to move out of their parents' basements and "get a life."


  1. ^ Clemmer, Jim (1999). Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success. ISBNĀ 0-9684675-0-4.
  2. ^ "Get a life meaning". The Idioms. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  4. ^ Sean O'Casey, Peter Hedges Baby Anger, p. 48, 1986. "Get a life, people of New Jersey!"