go 1 (gō)
v. went (wĕnt), gone (gôn, gŏn), go·ing, goes (gōz)
1. To move or travel; proceed: We will go by bus. Solicitors went from door to door seeking donations. How fast can the boat go?
2. To move away from a place; depart: Go before I cry.
a. To pursue a certain course: messages that go through diplomatic channels to the ambassador.
b. To resort to another, as for aid: went directly to the voters of her district.
a. To extend between two points or in a certain direction; run: curtains that go from the ceiling to the floor.
b. To give entry; lead: a stairway that goes to the basement.
5. To function properly: The car won't go.
a. To have currency.
b. To pass from one person to another; circulate: Wild rumors were going around the office.
7. To pass as the result of a sale: The gold watch went to the highest bidder.
8. Informal Used as an intensifier or to indicate annoyance when joined by and to a coordinate verb: She went and complained to Personnel.
9. Used in the progressive tense with an infinitive to indicate future intent or expectation: I am going to learn how to dance.
a. To continue to be in a certain condition or continue an activity: go barefoot.
b. To come to be in a certain condition: go mad; hair that had gone gray.
c. To continue to be in effect or operation: a lease with one year to go.
d. To carry out an action to a certain point or extent: Your parents went to great expense to put you through college.
11. To be called; be known: Our friend William often goes by Billy.
a. To be customarily located; belong: The fork goes to the left of the plate. Where do the plates go?
b. To be capable of entering or fitting: Will the suitcase go into the trunk of your car?
a. To pass into someone's possession: All the jewelry went to her heirs.
b. To be allotted: How much of your salary goes for rent?
14. To be a contributing factor: It all goes to show us that the project can be completed on time.
a. To have a particular form: as the saying goes.
b. To be such, by and large: well behaved, as big dogs go.
a. To extend in time: The story goes back to the Middle Ages.
b. To pass by; elapse: The day went pleasantly enough until I received your call.
a. To be used up or finished: My interest in such things has gone.
b. To be discarded or abolished: All luxuries will have to go.
a. To become weak; fail: His hearing has started to go.
b. To give way; break up: The dam is about to go.
19. To cease living; die.
a. To happen or develop; fare: How are things going?
b. To have a successful outcome: creativity that made the advertising campaign really go.
21. To be suitable or appropriate as an accessory or accompaniment: a color that goes beautifully with your complexion.
a. To have authority: Whatever I say goes.
b. To be valid, acceptable, or adequate.
23. Informal To urinate or defecate: I left the meeting early because I really had to go!
24. Informal To begin an act: Here goes!
25. Obsolete To walk.
1. To proceed or move according to: I was free to go my own way.
2. To traverse: Only two of the runners went the entire distance.
3. To engage in: went skiing.
a. To bet: go $20 on the black horse.
b. To bid: I'll go $500 on the vase.
a. To take on the responsibility or obligation for: go bail for a client.
b. To participate to (a given extent): Will you go halves with me if we win the lottery?
6. To amount to; weigh: a shark that went 400 pounds.
7. Sports To have as a record: went 3 for 4 against their best pitcher.
8. Informal To enjoy: I could go a cold beer right now.
9. Informal To say or utter. Used chiefly in verbal narration: First I go, "Thank you," then he goes, "What for?"
n. pl. goes
1. The act or an instance of going.
2. An attempt; an effort: had a go at acting.
3. The time or period of an activity.
4. Informal Energy; vitality: had lots of go.
a. The go-ahead.
b. often Go The starting point: "And from Go there was something deliciously illicit about the whole affair" (Erica Abeel).
c. Informal A situation in which planned operations can be effectuated: The space mission is a go.
Informal Functioning correctly and ready for action: All systems are go.
To set about to do; undertake: Go about your chores in a responsible way.
To cooperate: They get along by going along.
1. To satisfy a demand or requirement: just enough food to go around.
2. To go here and there; move from place to place.
3. To have currency: rumors going around.
1. To attack, especially with energy.
2. To approach; undertake: He went at the job with a lot of energy.
1. To elapse; pass: as time goes by.
2. To pay a short visit: My parents were away when we went by last week.
1. To drop below the horizon; set: The sun went down.
2. To fall to the ground: The helicopter went down in a ball of fire.
3. To sink: The torpedoed battleship went down.
4. To experience defeat or ruin.
5. To admit of easy swallowing: a cough syrup that goes down readily.
6. To decrease in cost or value.
7. Chiefly British To leave a university.
8. Slang To occur; happen: "a collection of memorable pieces about the general craziness that was going down in those days" (James Atlas).
9. To be accepted or tolerated: How will your ideas go down as far as corporate marketing is concerned?
10. To come to be remembered in posterity: a debate that will go down as a turning point in the campaign.
11. Vulgar Slang To perform fellatio or cunnilingus.
1. To choose or accept: I went for the cheaper cable TV offering.
2. To try to attain: She is going for the record in the broad jump.
3. Informal To have a special liking for: I really go for progressive jazz.
4. To attack: an opponent who is known to go for the jugular in arguments.
5. To pass for or serve as: a couch that also goes for a bed.
1. To take part in a cooperative venture: went in with the others to buy a present.
2. To make an approach, as before an attack: Troops went in at dawn.
1. To discuss or investigate: The book goes into classical mythology.
2. To undertake as a profession or course of study: She's going into medicine.
1. To undergo detonation; explode.
2. To make a noise; sound: The siren went off at noon.
3. To leave: Don't go off mad.
4. Chiefly British To stop consuming or liking: The dog has gone off his food.
5. Informal To adhere to the expected course of events or the expected plan: The project went off smoothly.
6. Chiefly British To become spoiled or rancid: The orange juice has gone off.
1. To take place; happen: didn't know what was going on.
2. To continue: Life must go on.
3. To keep on doing (something): Don't go on talking.
4. To proceed: She went on to become a senator.
5. Informal To talk volubly: My, you do go on.
1. To become extinguished.
2. To go outdoors; leave one's residence: He went out at 7:00.
3. To take part in social life outside the home: goes out a lot.
4. To be romantically involved: They've been going out for two years.
5. To feel sympathy or pity: My heart goes out to the storm victims.
6. To become unfashionable: High boots went out last year.
7. To undergo structural collapse: The bridge went out.
1. To gain acceptance or approval: a new style that didn't go over.
2. To examine or review: go over the test scores.
1. To examine carefully: went through the students' papers.
2. To experience or be subjected to: We went through hell while working on this project.
3. To perform: I went through the sonata in 30 minutes.
1. To suffer defeat or destruction; fail.
2. To lose consciousness.
1. To increase in price or value.
2. To be in the process of construction: Office buildings went up all over town.
3. Chiefly British To go to a university.
1. To date (someone) regularly.
2. To select or choose: decided to go with the pink wallpaper.
from the word go
From the very beginning.
go all the way
Slang To have sexual intercourse.
go back on
To fail to honor or keep: go back on a promise.
To be in little or no demand: "Prestige or no prestige, directors' jobs at some companies have actually gone begging" (Bill Powell).
go belly up Informal
To undergo total financial failure: "A record number of ... banks went belly up" (New Republic).
go bust Informal
To undergo financial collapse: "Railroads were in the news mainly when they were going bust" (Christian Science Monitor).
go by the board
To be discarded or ignored: old dress codes that have now gone by the board.
go down the line
To provide strong support.
go fly a kite Informal
To cease being an annoyance. Often used in the imperative.
go for broke Informal
To commit or expend all of one's available resources toward achievement of a goal: "Why not go for broke and take on somebody who is quite young and see what he does?" (Roger L. Stevens).
go for it Informal
To expend all one's strength and resources toward achievement of an end or purpose.
go in for
1. To have interest in: goes in for classical music.
2. To take part in: goes in for water skiing.
In the near future: We expect business to improve going forward.
go in with
To join in or combine with: He'll go in with them on the plan.
go it alone
To undertake a project, trip, or responsibility without the presence or help of others.
To become lost, especially to disappear suddenly: My cat has gone missing. Her wallet went missing yesterday.
go off the deep end
To behave hysterically or very recklessly.
go one better
To surpass or outdo by one degree: He's gone me one better.
go out for
To seek to become a participant in: go out for varsity soccer.
go out of (one's) way
To inconvenience oneself in doing something beyond what is required.
go out the window Informal
To become insignificant or inoperative: "As soon as a third body is introduced to the Newtonian system, all lawful ordering of processes goes out the window" (Fusion).
go places Informal
To be on the way to success: a young executive who is clearly going places.
To date someone exclusively.
go the distance
To carry a course of action through to completion.
Informal To pursue a subject in conversation: How's my job? Let's not go there.
go the vole
To risk all of one's resources in the prospect of achieving great gains.
go to extremes
To do something to an extreme degree or behave in an unrestrained manner.
go to it
To begin something right away.
go to (one's) head
1. To make one dizzy or inebriated.
2. To make one proud or conceited.
go to pieces
1. To become emotionally upset or distraught.
2. To suffer the loss of one's health.
go to the mat Informal
To fight or dispute until one side or another is victorious: The governor will go to the mat with the legislature over the controversial spending bill.
go to the wall Informal
1. To lose a conflict or be defeated; yield: Despite their efforts, the team went to the wall.
2. To be forced into bankruptcy; fail.
3. To make an all-out effort, especially in defending another.
go to town Informal
1. To work or perform efficiently and rapidly.
2. To be highly successful.
go up in flames/smoke
To be utterly destroyed.
go without saying
To be self-evident: It goes without saying that success is the product of hard work.
on the go
Constantly busy or active.
1. To be taken out, as restaurant food or drink: coffee and doughnuts to go.
2. Still to be done or dealt with; remaining: I've got two exams down and two to go.
[Middle English gon, from Old English gān; see ghē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Our Living Language Go has long been used to describe the production of nonlinguistic noises, notably in conversation with children, as in The train went "toot." The cow goes "moo." Within the past few decades, however, many speakers began to use go informally to report speech, as in Then he goes, "You think you're real smart, don't you?" This usage parallels the quotation introducers be like and be all. But unlike these other expressions, which can indicate thoughts or attitudes, this use of go is largely restricted to dialogue related in the narrative present, especially when the narrator wishes to mimic the accent or intonation of the original speaker. See Note at like2.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.