What does the idiom "get nowhere fast" mean?

The phrase get nowhere fast is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of get nowhere fast.

Meaning of "get nowhere fast"


When used as an idiom, "get nowhere fast" means to fail to make progress on a task or endeavor despite putting in a lot of effort. It is commonly used to describe the feeling of being overwhelmed with a difficult situation, task, or process. The phrase suggests that while the individual is making some sort of effort, they are not achieving their desired results.


The phrase "get nowhere fast" has been used since at least the late 19th century. It is a combination of the two terms "get nowhere" and "fast". "Get nowhere" has been used since the late 16th century and likely originates from the idea of traveling without making any progress. "Fast" has been used since the early 15th century and likely originates from the Middle English phrase "feast," meaning "firm."


The phrase "get nowhere fast" is commonly used in informal conversation. It is often used when someone is feeling overwhelmed with a difficult task and is not making any progress. It is also used to describe a situation when someone is trying to achieve a goal but is failing to make any headway. For example, someone might say, "I'm trying to learn this programming language, but I'm getting nowhere fast."

Example Sentences

  • I've been studying for this exam all night and I'm getting nowhere fast.
  • I've been trying to get that promotion for years, but I'm getting nowhere fast.
  • We've been trying to find a solution to this problem, but we're getting nowhere fast.

The meanings of the words in the "get nowhere fast" idiom

The power of idioms transcends languages!

"Putting the cart before the horse" is an English idiom that means doing things in the wrong order. In Russian, the similar idiom is "Кладёт колесо впереди лошади," which translates to "Putting the cart before the horse." This idiom emphasizes the idea that doing things in the wrong order can lead to confusion and problems down the line.


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