Glossary Home Idioms

Get your act together

“Get your act together” is a common English idiom used to tell someone to stop messing around and focus. 

It’s usually used with the intention of changing someone’s behavior and can be insulting when used with a certain tone. It’s common to hear it if someone is wasting time, not working as hard as they should, or even getting into trouble. “Get your act together” is widely used and commonly understood.

Get your act together meaning

“Get your act together” Meaning

“Get your act together” is an idiom that’s used to inspire someone to work harder and get their lives in order.

To “get your act together,” one organizes their work, checks to make sure they aren’t doing anything wrong, and so on. It could be used in regard to something specific, such as failing at a work task, or it might be used more broadly and directed at someone whose life is falling apart. The “act” referenced in the phrase is a metaphor for the way a person is carrying themselves and dealing with issues in their everyday life. When it’s “together,” it’s organized and functional. But, when it’s falling apart, it’s likely the person is not handling tasks well or is forgetting things they need to do.


The origins of “get your act together” are not entirely clear. Some believe that it originated in the movie and theatre industry. It might’ve been used, according to The Idioms, to encourage them to get their performance or “act” in order and shake off the nerves. It came into everyday use in the mid-1900s. Like most idioms, it’s likely that this one evolved over time. Words within these phrases often change and shift depending on what the English language favors at one time or another. 

How To Use “Get your act together” 

You can use “get your act together” in a wide variety of situations. It can be used with friends, family members, and colleagues. But, in regard to the latter, one might come across experiences where someone gets offended if the phrase is used with a  particular tone. In fact, it’s usually used as a way of nudging someone to make changes in their life or used as a direct insult with a hard tone. One might use the phrase when one of their friends or family members is making a series of mistakes or is slacking off. For example, “You need to get your act together, or you’re never going to get anywhere in life.” 

If one tries to use this phrase with a superior or more formal setting, they’re unlikely to get a positive response. 

Example Sentences

  • It’s time for you to get your act together. 
  • Enough messing around, get your act together. 
  • He told me to get my act together and I feel like he was right. 
  • After I got my act together I felt better. 
  • Making that purchase feels like getting my act together. 
  • It’s time for use to get our act together and grow up.

Why Do Writers Use “Get your act together” 

Writers use “get your act together” in different situations. It can be used as part of a dialogue between characters or as part of a narrator’s description of a scene. In regard to the former, two characters might be having a fight, and one says, “you need to get your act together.” This might escalate the conflict further. 

This idiom is a commonly used phrase and therefore, many readers, if not all readers are going to know exactly what it means. It can also help writers make their work feel more realistic and believable. If readers come across a phrase they use in their everyday life, they’re more likely to relate to the dialogue. But, it’s also possible to overuse phrases like this one, making them feel cliché. If this occurs, it’s more likely that the dialogue a writer uses is going to feel unbelievable.


Why do people use “Get your act together?” 

People use “get your act together” in many different situations. It’s usually used to remind someone that they need to stop slacking off or wasting time and work harder. It can be insulting if used in a certain way.

Where does “get your act together” come from? 

It’s unclear exactly where this phrase comes from, but it is usually associated with television, theatre, and film.

Is “get your act together” an idiom? 

Yes, “get your act together” is an idiom. It is a phrase that has a different meaning than its words convey on a surface level.

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