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These two phrases seem to be similar:

  • get rid of - take action so as to be free of (a troublesome or unwanted person or thing)
  • get out of - contrive to avoid or escape a duty or responsibility

Could you explain the difference in meaning and usage of these two phrases?

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@Jeff Morrow covered the specifics, but get rid of means to rid yourself of something (not necessarily a physical object). It's something that you own, or something burdening you or influencing your life, so getting rid of it is removing its presence and influence.

Get out of means the person is removing themselves from something - either avoiding a responsibility or commitment, escaping a situation, or physically moving themselves outside of a place.

So a person gets [themselves] out of things, and a person gets rid of [something]. It's also possible for a person to get [someone] out of something, maybe by making an excuse for why they can't do a task. In that sense, it's the same as getting [themselves] out of something, it's just they're doing it on someone else's behalf, and it's intended as a favour, not forcefully removing them from something they want to do (which would feel more like getting rid of them)

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“Get rid of” relates to disposing physical things and does not imply anything inappropriate.

I finally got rid of that broken table and bought a new one.

“Get out of” relates to failure to perform obligations, responsibilities, duties, or that kind of social rather than physical thing.

He got out of doing any of the work by pretending to be sick.

There frequently is an implication that the failure to perform was inappropriate.

But be careful. “Get out of” is also used with respect to physical things in a completely different sense of removing something or someone from an interior

Get out of the house; it’s on fire.

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