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12 Aug. Where did the phrase “get a word in edgeways” come from?

This is a very commonly used English expression whose origins date back hundreds of years. If you would like to find out when to use it and exactly where it came from then keep reading!


The expression is used in order to denote the act of managing to take part in a conversation. It refers to a conversation in which there is one or more dominant speakers and therefore one in which it is extremely difficult to get the chance to speak.


The expression was coined in the 19th century in the United Kingdom and remains, to this day, an expression used primarily in the United Kingdom.

In the year 1683 we find a similar expression used by David Abercromby in his work Art of Converse. It reads “without giving them so much time as to edge in a word.”

The first recorded use of the exact expression dates to the year 1820 in a play called A night at Dover. The example reads “Sir F. (Aside.) Curse me, if I can get a word in edgeways!”


An example of the expression in use can be found in an article in a sports article in the British newspaper The Telegraph. The title of the article is “Euro 2016 punditwatch: England vs Slovakia – Slaven Bilić steals show as Glenn Hoddle adds to England fan misery.” The quote reads “Did we need three ex-England players, with little management or tournament experience, all trying to get a word in edgeways? No.”

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