Definition of get at in English:

get at

phrasal verb

  • 1Reach or gain access to (something)

    ‘it's difficult to get at the screws’
    • ‘Losing a hard drive, or maybe scratching a CD can make getting at your data pretty difficult if not impossible.’
    • ‘I want machines with easy access so I can get at parts that need fixing.’
    • ‘In an effort to get at some difficult truths, reporters and writers have at times resorted to unconventional and controversial practices.’
    • ‘Mrs Allan said it was mine now, but she could not let me have it as it was at the back of the garage which was difficult to get at.’
    • ‘Others are positioned in between capacitors, or up against connectors, and are generally difficult to get at after the board has been installed.’
    • ‘It was possible to actually reach in and get at the components of your engine.’
    • ‘Not only is truth the first casualty of war, it's also difficult to get at after the guns have been silent.’
    • ‘I use an old toothbrush to get at those hard to reach areas.’
    • ‘It's bolted to the bottom of the chassis, and you'll need to undo those bolts to get at the screws holding the hoses on.’
    • ‘The inner tube was difficult to get at because the tyre itself was stuck to the wheel rim.’
    access, gain access to, get to, reach, touch
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    1. 1.1Bribe or unfairly influence (someone)
      ‘he had been got at by government officials’
      • ‘It occurs to me that any of those seven judges could have been got at.’
      • ‘So there are these faceless men there in Reykjavik, and it affects the American side too because they begin to be affected by this and they wonder whether they're being got at in some way.’
      corrupt, suborn, influence, bribe, buy off, pay off
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  • 2informal Imply (something)

    ‘I can see what you're getting at’
    • ‘You would be hard pressed to not have someone that doesn't know what point I am getting at or trying to allude to.’
    • ‘And, just in case you can't work out what I'm getting at, I would appreciate all suggestions.’
    • ‘I do hope you know what I am getting at, and see the little hints of the things that they are doing to each other.’
    • ‘It's a curious image and I guess this is what you're getting at when you suggest that we are natural born cyborgs?’
    • ‘I knew what he was getting at, but his intentions and the meaning of his suggestion seemed lost among the others.’
    • ‘There was a message from Joan, and one from George, who was implying something that she wasn't getting at.’
    • ‘This gets at what ethical egoists intend, while skirting the issue of constraints on moral theories.’
    • ‘What Bearden was getting at remains an unsolved issue in interpreting his work.’
    • ‘What I'm getting at, Paige, is that I suggested to her a nanny, a nanny who had children herself, who would be a good influence on her daughter.’
    • ‘I'm not quite sure what you're getting at now, are you suggesting that loads of different people are writing stories for the series?’
    imply, suggest, intimate, insinuate, hint, mean, intend, lead up to, drive at, allude to
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  • 3British informal Criticize (someone) subtly and repeatedly.

    ‘I hope you didn't think I was getting at you’
    • ‘Keane has improved his aggression in the past few seasons, and I think that is one thing critics can not get at him for.’
    • ‘Why am I being got at by these TV people for just doing the stuff that all my mates do day in day out.’
    • ‘After foot-and-mouth, farmers were seen as victims, traumatised, impoverished and generally got at.’
    criticize, pick on, find fault with, carp at, nag
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