give ground


  1. the solid surface of the earth; firm or dry land: to fall to the ground.
  2. earth or soil: stony ground.
  3. land having an indicated character: rising ground.
  4. Often grounds. a tract of land appropriated to a special use: picnic grounds; a hunting ground.
  5. Often grounds. the foundation or basis on which a belief or action rests; reason or cause: grounds for dismissal.
  6. subject for discussion; topic: Sex education is forbidden ground in some school curricula.
  7. rational or factual support for one’s position or attitude, as in a debate or argument: on firm ground; on shaky ground.
  8. the main surface or background in painting, decorative work, lace, etc.
  9. Fine Arts.
    1. a coating of some substance serving as a surface for paint, ink, or other media in art: Lead white is a traditional ground for oil paintings.
    2. ground color(def 2).
  10. (in perception) the background in a visual field, contrasted with the figure.
  11. Also called etching ground. an acid-resistant substance, composed of wax, gum, and resin in varying proportions, applied to the entire surface of an etching plate and through which the design is drawn with an etching needle.
  12. grounds, dregs or sediment: coffee grounds.
  13. grounds, the gardens, lawn, etc., surrounding and belonging to a building.
  14. Electricity. a conducting connection between an electric circuit or equipment and the earth or some other conducting body.
  15. Music. ground bass.
  16. Nautical. the bottom of a body of water.
  17. the earth’s solid or liquid surface; land or water.
  18. Carpentry.
    1. a strip of wood to which woodwork can be attached, set flush with the plaster finish of a room.
    2. a strip of wood or length of corner bead used at an opening as a stop for plasterwork.


  1. situated on or at, or adjacent to, the surface of the earth: a ground attack.
  2. pertaining to the ground.
  3. Military. operating on land: ground forces.

verb (used with object)

  1. to lay or set on the ground.
  2. to place on a foundation; fix firmly; settle or establish; found.
  3. to instruct in elements or first principles: to ground students in science.
  4. to furnish with a ground or background, as on decorative work.
  5. to cover (wallpaper) with colors or other materials before printing.
  6. Electricity. to establish a ground for (a circuit, device, etc.).
  7. Nautical. to cause (a vessel) to run aground.
  8. Aeronautics. to restrict (an aircraft or the like) to the ground because of bad weather, the unsatisfactory condition of the aircraft, etc.
  9. to forbid (a pilot) to fly because of bad health, failure to comply with safety regulations, or the like.
  10. Informal. to put out of action or make unable to participate: The quarterback was grounded by a knee injury.
  11. Informal. to restrict the activities, especially the social activities, of: I can’t go to the party—my parents have grounded me until my grades improve.

verb (used without object)

  1. to come to or strike the ground.
  2. Baseball.
    1. to hit a ground ball.
    2. to ground out.

Verb Phrases

  1. ground out, Baseball. to be put out at first base after hitting a ground ball to the infield.
  1. break ground,
    1. to plow.
    2. to begin excavation for a construction project.
    3. to begin upon or take preparatory measures for any undertaking.
  2. cover ground,
    1. to pass or travel over a certain area.
    2. to make a certain amount of progress in dealing with a piece of work, subject, treatise, or the like: He talked for two hours without covering much ground.
  3. cut the ground from under, to render (an argument, position, person, etc.) ineffective or invalid; refute: It didn’t require much effort to cut the ground from under that case.
  4. from the ground up,
    1. gradually from the most elementary level to the highest level: She learned the business from the ground up.
    2. extensively; thoroughly: The professor knew his subject from the ground up.
  5. gain ground,
    1. to make progress; advance.
    2. to gain approval or acceptance: The case for air-pollution control is gaining ground throughout the country.
  6. give ground, to yield to force or forceful argument; retreat: The disarmament talks reached an impasse when neither side would give ground on inspection proposals.
  7. hold/stand one’s ground, to maintain one’s position; be steadfast: The referee stood his ground, though his decision was hotly contested by the crowd.
  8. into the ground, beyond a reasonable or necessary point: You’ve stated your case, and you needn’t run it into the ground.
  9. lose ground,
    1. to retreat or be forced back.
    2. to lose one’s advantage; suffer a reverse.
    3. to wane in popularity or acceptance; begin to fail: Our candidate is losing ground in industrial areas.
  10. off the ground, Informal. into action or well under way: The play never got off the ground.
  11. on one’s own ground, in an area or situation that one knows well.
  12. on the ground, at the place of interest or importance; actively engaged: Minutes after the bank robbery reporters were on the ground to get the story.
  13. shift ground, to change position in an argument or situation.
  14. suit down to the ground, to be perfectly satisfactory; please greatly: This climate suits me down to the ground.
  15. take the ground, Nautical. to become grounded at low water.
  16. to ground,
    1. into a den, burrow, shelter, or the like: a fox gone to ground.
    2. into concealment or hiding: Rather than take the witness stand, she went to ground in another country.

verb (used with object), gave, giv·en, giv·ing.

  1. to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow: to give a birthday present to someone.
  2. to hand to someone: Give me that plate, please.
  3. to place in someone’s care: If you give me your coat, I’ll put it in the closet.
  4. to grant (permission, opportunity, etc.) to someone: Give me a chance.
  5. to impart or communicate: to give advice; to give a cold to someone.
  6. to set forth or show; present; offer: He gave no reason for his lateness.
  7. to pay or transfer possession to another in exchange for something: They gave five dollars for the picture. He gave me the car for $800.
  8. to furnish, provide, or proffer: to give evidence; Let me give you my umbrella before you go out in this rain.
  9. to provide as an entertainment or social function: to give a New Year’s Eve party.
  10. to deal or administer: to give a blow to someone; to give medicine to a patient.
  11. to put forth, emit, or utter; issue: to give a cry; to give a command.
  12. to assign or admit as a basis of calculation or reasoning (usually used passively): These facts being given, the argument makes sense.
  13. to produce, yield, or afford: to give good results; 9 × 8 gives 72; The hen gave six eggs a week.
  14. to make, do, or perform: to give a start; to give a lurch.
  15. to perform or present publicly: to give a play; to give a concert.
  16. to cause; be responsible for (usually followed by an infinitive): They gave me to understand that you would be there.
  17. to care about something to the value or extent of (something fanciful): I don’t give a hoot about his opinion.
  18. to relinquish or sacrifice: to give one’s life for a cause.
  19. to convey or transmit: Give Aunt Betty my love.
  20. to assign or allot: Give every man a full ration of biscuits. They gave him the name of “Joseph.”
  21. to bestow (the object of one’s choice) upon, as if by providence: Give me the wide open spaces anytime.
  22. to be connected with, as by a telephone operator: Give me 235-7522.
  23. to present to an audience, as an entertainer, speaker, or act: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the governor of Texas.
  24. to attribute or ascribe: to give the devil his due; After long study the critic gave the unsigned work to a minor impressionist.
  25. to cause or occasion: She gives me a pain in the neck.
  26. to apply fully or freely: He gives his free time to golf.
  27. to award by verdict or after consideration: A decision was given for the defendant.
  28. to inflict as a punishment on another; punish by; impose a sentence of: The judge gave him five years.
  29. to pledge, offer as a pledge, or execute and deliver: He gave her his promise. Can you give bond?
  30. to propose as the subject of a toast (followed by an indirect object): Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our country.
  31. to bear to a man; deliver (followed by an indirect object): She gave him a beautiful baby boy.
  32. to sire upon a woman; father (followed by an indirect object): He gave her two children in the first five years of marriage.
  33. to concede or grant, as a point in an argument.

verb (used without object), gave, giv·en, giv·ing.

  1. to make a gift or gifts; contribute: to give to the United Way.
  2. to yield somewhat, as to influence or force; compromise: We can’t negotiate until each side is willing to give on some points.
  3. to yield somewhat when subjected to weight, force, pressure, etc.: A horsehair mattress doesn’t give much.
  4. to collapse; break down; fall apart; fail: The antique chair gave when I sat on it.
  5. to be warm and open in relationships with other persons: a withdrawn person who doesn’t know how to give.
  6. Informal. to divulge information: Okay now, give! What happened?
  7. to afford a view or passage; face, open, or lead (usually followed by on, onto, etc.): The window gives on the sea. This door gives onto the hallway.


  1. the quality or state of being resilient; springiness.

Verb Phrases

  1. give away,
    1. to give as a present; bestow.
    2. to present (the bride) to the bridegroom in a marriage ceremony.
    3. to expose or betray (a person).
    4. to reveal (a confidence or secret, hidden motives, true feelings, etc.): That remark gave away his real feelings.
  2. give back, to return (something), as to its owner; restore: You haven’t given back the books you borrowed from me.
  3. give birth to. birth(def 10).
  4. give in,
    1. to acknowledge defeat; yield.
    2. to hand in; deliver: Please give in your timecards.
  5. give of, to devote or contribute generously of: to give of oneself; to give of one’s abundance.
  6. give off, to put forth; emit: The gardenia gives off a very strong fragrance.
  7. give out,
    1. to send out; emit.
    2. to make public; announce.
    3. to distribute; issue.
    4. to become exhausted.
    5. to become used up; fail: The fuel gave out.
    6. to do or express something, especially unrestrainedly or easily: to give out with a song.
  8. give over,
    1. to put into the care of; transfer: She gave over all her property to her daughter.
    2. to put an end to; stop: They will never give over their impossible dreams.
    3. to indulge in without restraint: She gave herself over to tears.
    4. to devote to a specified activity: The day was given over to relaxing in the sun.
  9. give up,
    1. to abandon hope; despair.
    2. to desist from; renounce: to give up smoking.
    3. to surrender; relinquish.
    4. to devote (oneself) entirely to: She gave herself up to her job and seldom saw her old friends.
    5. South Midland consider; deem: She’s given up to be the kindest woman around here.
  1. give and take,
    1. to compromise in order to cooperate: A willingness to give and take is important for success in marriage.
    2. to exchange ideas: an informal meeting in which there would be opportunities to give and take.
  2. give battle. battle1(def 10).
  3. give ground, to yield before superior force, as of arms or of reasoning.
  4. give it to, Informal. to reprimand or punish: His father really gave it to him for coming home so late.
  5. give or take, plus or minus a specified amount; more or less: It will cost $20, give or take a dollar or two.
  6. give rise to. rise(def 55).
  7. give way. way1(def 25).


  1. the land surface
  2. earth or soilhe dug into the ground outside his house
  3. (plural) the land around a dwelling house or other building
  4. (sometimes plural) an area of land given over to a purposefootball ground; burial grounds
  5. land having a particular characteristiclevel ground; high ground
  6. matter for consideration or debate; field of research or inquirythe lecture was familiar ground to him; the report covered a lot of ground
  7. a position or viewpoint, as in an argument or controversy (esp in the phrases give ground, hold, stand, or shift one’s ground)
  8. position or advantage, as in a subject or competition (esp in the phrases gain ground, lose ground, etc)
  9. (often plural) reason; justificationgrounds for complaint
  10. arts
    1. the prepared surface applied to the support of a painting, such as a wall, canvas, etc, to prevent it reacting with or absorbing the paint
    2. the support of a painting
    3. the background of a painting or main surface against which the other parts of a work of art appear superimposed
    1. the first coat of paint applied to a surface
    2. (as modifier)ground colour
  11. the bottom of a river or the sea
  12. (plural) sediment or dregs, esp from coffee
  13. mainly British the floor of a room
  14. cricket
    1. the area from the popping crease back past the stumps, in which a batsman may legally stand
    2. ground staff
  15. See ground bass
  16. a mesh or network supporting the main pattern of a piece of lace
  17. electrical, US and Canadian
    1. a connection between an electrical circuit or device and the earth, which is at zero potential
    2. Also called: eartha terminal to which this connection is made
  18. above ground alive
  19. below ground dead and buried
  20. break new ground to do something that has not been done before
  21. cut the ground from under someone’s feet to anticipate someone’s action or argument and thus make it irrelevant or meaningless
  22. to the ground or down to the ground British informal completely; absolutelyit suited him down to the ground
  23. get off the ground informal to make a beginning, esp one that is successful
  24. go to ground to go into hiding
  25. into the ground beyond what is requisite or can be endured; to exhaustion
  26. meet someone on his own ground to meet someone according to terms he has laid down himself
  27. the high ground or the moral high ground a position of moral or ethical superiority in a dispute
  28. touch ground
    1. (of a ship) to strike the sea bed
    2. to arrive at something solid or stable after discussing or dealing with topics that are abstract or inconclusive
  29. (modifier) situated on, living on, or used on the groundground frost; ground forces
  30. (modifier) concerned with or operating on the ground, esp as distinct from in the airground crew; ground hostess
  31. (modifier) (used in names of plants) low-growing and often trailing or spreading


  1. (tr) to put or place on the ground
  2. (tr) to instruct in fundamentals
  3. (tr) to provide a basis or foundation for; establish
  4. (tr) to confine (an aircraft, pilot, etc) to the ground
  5. (tr) informal to confine (a child) to the house as a punishment
  6. the usual US word for earth (def. 16)
  7. (tr) nautical to run (a vessel) aground
  8. (tr) to cover (a surface) with a preparatory coat of paint
  9. (intr) to hit or reach the ground


  1. the past tense and past participle of grind


  1. having the surface finished, thickness reduced, or an edge sharpened by grinding
  2. reduced to fine particles by grinding

verb gives, giving, gave (ɡeɪv) or given (ˈɡɪvən) (mainly tr)

  1. (also intr) to present or deliver voluntarily (something that is one’s own) to the permanent possession of another or others
  2. (often foll by for) to transfer (something that is one’s own, esp money) to the possession of another as part of an exchangeto give fifty pounds for a painting
  3. to place in the temporary possession of anotherI gave him my watch while I went swimming
  4. (when intr, foll by of) to grant, provide, or bestowgive me some advice
  5. to administerto give a reprimand
  6. to award or attributeto give blame, praise, etc
  7. to be a source ofhe gives no trouble
  8. to impart or communicateto give news; give a person a cold
  9. to utter or emitto give a shout
  10. to perform, make, or dothe car gave a jolt and stopped
  11. to sacrifice or devotehe gave his life for his country
  12. to surrenderto give place to others
  13. to concede or yieldI will give you this game
  14. (intr) informal to happenwhat gives?
  15. (often foll by to) to cause; leadshe gave me to believe that she would come
  16. (foll by for) to value (something) atI don’t give anything for his promises
  17. to perform or present as an entertainmentto give a play
  18. to propose as a toastI give you the Queen
  19. (intr) to yield or break under force or pressurethis surface will give if you sit on it; his courage will never give
  20. give as good as one gets to respond to verbal or bodily blows to at least an equal extent as those received
  21. give battle to commence fighting
  22. give birth (often foll by to)
    1. to bear (offspring)
    2. to produce, originate, or create (an idea, plan, etc)
  23. give a person five or give a person some skin slang to greet or congratulate someone by slapping raised hands
  24. give ground to draw back or retreat
  25. give it up for someone slang to applaud someone
  26. give someone one British slang to have sex with someone
  27. give rise to to be the cause of
  28. give me informal I prefergive me hot weather any day!
  29. give or take plus or minusthree thousand people came, give or take a few hundred
  30. give way See way (def. 24)
  31. give a person what for informal to punish or reprimand a person severely


  1. a tendency to yield under pressure; resiliencethere’s bound to be some give in a long plank; there is no give in his moral views

Old English grund “bottom, foundation, ground, surface of the earth,” especially “bottom of the sea” (a sense preserved in run aground), from Proto-Germanic *grundus, which seems to have meant “deep place” (cf. Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish grund, Dutch grond, Old High German grunt, German Grund “ground, soil, bottom;” Old Norse grunn “a shallow place,” grund “field, plain,” grunnr “bottom”). No known cognates outside Germanic. Sense of “reason, motive” first attested c.1200; electrical sense is from 1870.


mid-13c., “to put on the ground, to strike down to the ground,” from ground (n.). Of ships, “to run into the ground,” from mid-15c. Meaning “to base” (an argument, sermon, etc.) is late 14c. Meaning “deny privileges” is 1940s, originally a punishment meted out to pilots (in which sense it is attested from 1930). Related: Grounded; grounding.


“reduced to fine particles by grinding,” 1765, past participle adjective from grind.


Old English giefan (W. Saxon) “to give, bestow; allot, grant; commit, devote, entrust,” class V strong verb (past tense geaf, past participle giefen), from Proto-Germanic *gebanan (cf. Old Frisian jeva, Middle Dutch gheven, Dutch geven, Old High German geban, German geben, Gothic giban), from PIE *ghabh- “to take, hold, have, give” (see habit). It became yiven in Middle English, but changed to guttural “g” by influence of Old Norse gefa “to give,” Old Danish givæ. Meaning “to yield to pressure” is from 1570s.

Give in “yield” is from 1610s; give out is mid-14c., “publish, announce;” meaning “run out, break down” is from 1520s. Give up “surrender” is mid-12c. To give (someone) a cold seems to reflect the old belief that one could be cured of disease by deliberately infecting others. What gives? “what is happening?” is attested from 1940. Give-and-take (n.) is originally from horse racing (1769) and refers to races in which bigger horses were given more weight to carry, lighter ones less. General sense attested by 1778.

  1. A connection between an electrical conductor and the Earth. Grounds are used to establish a common zero-voltage reference for electric devices in order to prevent potentially dangerous voltages from arising between them and other objects. Also called earth
  2. The set of shared points in an electrical circuit at which the measured voltage is taken to be zero. The ground is usually connected directly to the power supply and acts as a common “sink” for current flowing through the components in the circuit.

Yield to a stronger force, retreat, as in He began to give ground on that point, although he didn’t stop arguing entirely. This expression originated in the 1500s, when it alluded to a military force retreating and so giving up territory to the enemy. By the mid-1600s it was being used figuratively.

In addition to the idioms beginning with give

  • give a bad name to
  • give a break
  • give a damn
  • give a good account of oneself
  • give a hand
  • give a hang
  • give a hard time
  • give a hoot
  • give a leg up
  • give and take
  • give an inch and they’ll take a mile
  • give a pain
  • give a piece of one’s mind
  • give as good as one gets
  • give a shit
  • give away
  • give a wide berth
  • give bad marks to
  • give birth to
  • give chase
  • give color to
  • give credit
  • give free rein to
  • give ground
  • give in
  • give it one’s best shot
  • give it to
  • give me a break
  • give notice
  • given to
  • give off
  • give of oneself
  • give one
  • give oneself airs
  • give oneself away
  • give oneself up
  • give one’s eyeteeth
  • give or take
  • give out
  • give over
  • give pause
  • give rein to
  • give rise to
  • give short shrift
  • give someone
  • give someone a break
  • give someone a ring
  • give someone heart failure
  • give someone hell
  • give someone his or her due
  • give someone his or her head
  • give someone the air
  • give someone the evil eye
  • give someone the once-over
  • give someone enough rope
  • give someone fits
  • give something a whirl
  • give thanks for small blessings
  • give the back of one’s hand
  • give the benefit of the doubt
  • give the business
  • give the creeps
  • give the devil his due
  • give the eye
  • give the finger
  • give the go-ahead
  • give the lie to
  • give the shirt off one’s back
  • give the slip
  • give the time of day
  • give the word
  • give the works
  • give to understand
  • give up
  • give up the ghost
  • give vent to
  • give voice to
  • give way
  • give way to
  • give what for

also see:

  • hard time (give someone a)
  • Indian giver
  • never give a sucker an even break
  • not care (give) a rap
  • not give someone the time of day
  • what’s cooking (gives)

Also see under idioms beginning withget and have.

In addition to the idioms beginning with ground

  • ground floor, get in on the
  • ground rules

also see:

  • both feet on the ground
  • break ground
  • common ground
  • cover ground
  • cover the field (ground)
  • cut the ground from under
  • down to the ground
  • ear to the ground
  • from the ground up
  • gain ground
  • get off the ground
  • give ground
  • happy hunting ground
  • hit the ground running
  • lose ground
  • on one’s home ground
  • run into the ground
  • run to earth (ground)
  • stamping ground
  • stand one’s ground
  • worship the ground someone walks on

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