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What Does It Mean to "Get It in the Neck"?

Jim B.
Jim B.

When someone is going to “get it in the neck,” it means that he or she will receive some sort of punishment or censure for an action that has been committed. This is an English idiom, and it often implies that the person who is described in this manner has been doing something improper or foolhardy and is paying for that behavior. It can also be implied that someone who will “get it in the neck” has taken an unnecessary chance in doing the deed that has brought punishment upon him or her. The idiom is one of many idioms that play off the fact that the neck is one of the most vulnerable parts of the human body.

Those who speak English commonly use words or phrases that are easily understood by all in their culture even when the accepted meanings are far different that what the literal definitions of the words might imply. Such words and phrases are known as idioms, which start off meaning one thing but often evolve into a meaning that is something quite different. These idioms are useful to those people wanting to add a little color and impact to their speech. One idiom that is often used when someone is being punished for something is the expression “get it in the neck.”

Woman standing behind a stack of books
Woman standing behind a stack of books

If this phrase is used, it often means that someone has committed an action that he or she should have avoided at all costs. As a result, there will be some sort of consequences for this unwise action, such as punishment from some figure of authority. For example, someone might say, “I’m going to get it in the neck from my parents for staying out so late last night.”

There is also an implication when using this phrase that the action that merits the punishment might have been a huge risk taken by the person in question. This person might have tried to take a chance and get away with something, only to come up short in his or her efforts. As an example, consider the sentence, “When you go out on a limb and try something like that, don’t be surprised if you get it in the neck as a result.”

Many idioms use the neck as the basis for their meanings. Since the neck is in a spot where it can be attacked, it usually is used to depict some level of vulnerability. A similar idiom to “get it in the neck” is the phrase “stick your neck out.”

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