‘Get One’s Feet Wet’: Definition, Meaning, Examples

By Carly Forsaith, updated on January 19, 2024

Have you ever heard the expression 'get one's feet wet' and wondered what it means? Then you're in the right place. In this article, you'll learn what is known about the idiom's meaning, its possible origins, and how to use it in a sentence.

If you just want to know what it means, here's the short version:

  • 'Getting one's feet wet' is an idiom to describe someone trying something new or getting involved in a new experience.

What Does 'Get One's Feet Wet' Mean?

'Getting one's feet wet' is about taking the first steps or gaining initial experience in a particular activity or field. You take it slow to see if you like it before you take the plunge.

This is a perfect example of how idioms can't be interpreted literally. It doesn't necessarily involve actual water; it's more about starting something unfamiliar. Have you recently gotten your feet wet with anything interesting?

So how do you use it? Let's take a look at an example. Imagine, for instance, that you're thinking of studying to become a teacher, but you're not sure if you'll like the job, so you want to gain a little experience first to see if it's your thing.

You might say:

I'm starting a placement in a school next week, to get my feet wet before I make my decision. 

One more thing to note is that this idiom contains a verb ('get'), which can also be used in other forms and tenses, including:

When you use this idiom, don't forget to replace the word 'one' with the appropriate pronoun.

Where Does 'Get One's Feet Wet' Come From?

The origin of the idiom 'get one's feet wet' is a bit unclear. Some sources place it in the late 1500s, but I couldn't find much evidence to this effect.

It is likely related to the idea of wading into water. The act of stepping into the water for the first time can be a cautious and gradual approach, much like trying something new or unfamiliar. After all, before you can go for a swim, you have to get in the water, and to do that, you have to get your feet wet.

There is a passage in the Bible that, although it doesn't use this exact idiom, conveys a similar idea:

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river. 

After they stood in the river, God stopped the river flowing and parted it in two so the people could walk right through it. So one could wonder if the expression 'get one's feet wet' comes from the Bible and originally meant taking a leap of faith.

Examples in Sentences

Now that we've covered the meaning of this idiom and its origins, here are some example sentences that use it.

She decided to get her feet wet in the world of entrepreneurship by starting a small online business.

Emily got her feet wet in the competitive fashion industry, but her attempts to impress the renowned designer were in vain.

The new student was eager to get her feet wet in extracurricular activities, joining both the drama club and the debate team.

Sarah got her feet wet in coding by attending workshops and seeking input from experienced developers.

As a chef, he got his feet wet experimenting with different cuisines before opening his own restaurant.

The intern quickly got her feet wet in the fast-paced environment of the tech startup.

Before pursuing a career in journalism, he got his feet wet by writing freelance articles for local magazines.

The aspiring artist got his feet wet in the art world by participating in a community gallery exhibition.

She encouraged her shy friend to get her feet wet in social situations by attending a networking event with her.

Rather than diving into a full marathon, he decided to get his feet wet with a 5K race to gauge his fitness level. 

Other Ways to Say 'Get One's Feet Wet'

There are plenty of other ways to say you're getting started: trying something out. They're great to use if you're looking for alternative phrases. You'll see that some of them also involve water metaphors!

  • Dip one's toe in
  • Test the waters
  • Take a plunge
  • Wade into
  • Ease into
  • Initiate
  • Venture into
  • Break the ice
  • Start off
  • Take the first step

Concluding Thoughts

That concludes this article about this popular idiom. To summarize, when someone says they got their feet wet, they're saying they began doing a new activity in a new and simple way. 

Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!      

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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