According to online dictionaries, take to the streets and take it to the street are idiomatic. As defined in the Free Dictionary, Take it to the street:

to tell everyone about your problems.

Strangely enough, the Free Dictionary doesn't have an entry for take to the streets, because I find this phrase more commonly used. To borrow Wiktionary's definition, take to the streets means

(of a crowd of people) To gather together in the public streets of a town or city to show communal solidarity in either celebration or opposition.

Their meanings seem to differ. But I am curious how much do they overlap in everyday writing, if at all? Namely, do people use one when they intend for the other and have their writing considered acceptable?

Take (takin') it to the streets, on the other hand, is the title of several different songs/albums by a number of musicians (The Doobie Brothers, Curtis Mayfield, and Rampage, among others.)

What was this phrase intended to mean by those musicians, take to the streets, or take it to the street, or something totally different?


1 Answer 1


"To take to the streets" is actually a relatively common recent idiom that means, depending on context, to publicly protest, to riot, or to rebel.

Simply to take to the streets or to go on the streets means to reject conventional, institutional channels of conflict resolution, especially the law, and to pursue direct action. source


By 1910, when political leaders had proved themselves unable or unwilling to bring honest democratic government to Cuba, students, workers, and women took to the streets to demand reform, and discord and violence became a means of conducting politics.

When Russia's toilers took to the streets at the beginning of 1905 to challenge the three-hundred-year-old rule of the Romanov dynasty, Lenin was soon given the opportunity to apply lessons distilled by Marx and Engels on the revolutionary usage of the electoral process.

And throughout Europe protesters and rioters took to the streets to prevent governments from cutting workers' pay and unemployment benefits, increasing the retirement age and cutting pensions, and eliminating bonuses to families having children.

We can only assume that "takin' it to the streets" has a related meaning, but what exactly the Doobie Brothers meant is a matter of opinion. The lyrics certainly sound like a call to protest:

Take this message to my brother
You will find him... Everywhere
Wherever people live together
Tied in poverty's despair
Are you... Telling me the things you're gonna do for me
I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see

Takin' it to the streets (takin' it to the streets)

where "it" refers to whatever they were protesting against. However, it may have other meanings that are not immediately obvious.

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