Did someone say you should 'go with the flow' and you’re wondering what it means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the meaning, origin, examples, and more.
‘Go with the flow’ means to accept a situation and be relaxed about it rather than trying to control it or alter it. It can also be used to describe conforming to the behavior patterns of others and acting as others are acting.
This idiom is very descriptive when you think about it– imagining allowing yourself to get carried down a river by the water rather than trying to swim against the current. When you ‘go with the flow,’ you’re riding things out in the direction that they are already going.
You’re not trying to go against the grain or swim upstream.
Some trace the roots of this phrase back to the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. In his daily journals, which were later published as Meditations, he wrote at great length about the Stoic ideas he tried to incorporate into his daily life.
We find the same sentiment expressed in the phrase ‘go with the flow’ in the following passage:
"Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."
At the same time, the notion of ‘go with the flow,’ meaning that one should follow the crowd, likely isn’t the type of thing Marcus Aurelius had in mind. He was interested in going with the flow of nature and the universe and was notably opposed to doing things just because others were doing them.
The origin of the actual wording of ‘go with the flow’ is said to have originated in the 1960s.
How would 'go with the flow' be used in a sentence? Let’s take a look at some examples:
‘Go with the flow’ is an idiom that means to accept the way things are and be relaxed. It can also be used to describe conforming to what most other people are doing and following the crowd.
This is a common phrase that is widely used in the English language. Though the specific phrase is said to have originated in the 1960s, some point back to the writings of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius as the inspiration for the phrase.
Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Be sure to check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!
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