The quote from Godfather by M. Puso:

Sollozo said quitely, "I'll take care of Luca. You take care of Sonny anf the other two kids. Listen, you can tell them that Freddie would have gotten it today with his old man but my people had strict orders not to gun him.

It's not quite clear what would have gotten it means there. I thought it means that Friddie would have been killed today, but... but I'm not sure if get can have such meaning.

  • 6
    yes - that's the perfect meaning you got here
    – Leo
    Oct 22, 2014 at 5:20

5 Answers 5


You are correct. Exactly what 'it', when used in expressions like 'bought it', 'gotten it', etc., refers to in this context has always been a bit ambiguous to me (in this case, what Freddie would have actually gotten is a bullet), but the gist of the meaning is that Freddie would have been killed.

  • The it you're confused about is probably "what's coming (to him)", i.e. he'll get what's coming to him, an idiom used to suggest he'll soon be punished deservedly for a transgression, and with the mob it's usually safe to assume such punishment is death.
    – talrnu
    Oct 22, 2014 at 14:50
  • Sometimes, "it" doesn't refer to anything at all. As for example, "it's raining". I think "he bought it" would be similar.
    – Octopus
    Oct 22, 2014 at 16:43

In this case, the phrase "would have gotten it" is clarified by the ending phrase "but my people had strict orders not to gun him." So the intended meaning is for you to link together these two clauses, and know that "it" means "shot to death."


"Get it" is an idiomatic phrase listed in many dictionaries, which means to be punished. So the PO is right in understanfing that Freddie would have been punished through gunning but Sollozo's people had strict orders not to gun him. Here we should also be clear that the verb "gun" doesn't necessarily mean to kill; it also means to injure seriously.


You are correct that "gotten it" means "to be killed" in this context. This usage is fairly common in gangster and mafia movies, but usually would be odd elsewhere. It probably started because they were trying to avoid using words like "kill" and such, which overheard, would be more shocking and incriminating.


Surprised no one has mentioned this before, but "gotten it" and "bought it" are variants of longer phrases such as "bought the farm" or "gotten what he deserves" or "gotten what's coming to him," all of which are references to death (or other forms of punishment) but which are (slightly) less vague about what is being "gotten" or "bought."

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