This is a passage from a novel:

"So?" Seth asked.
"So what?" she said
So, how'd it go?" He meant with Neal. But he wouldn't say "with Neal"--because that's how they all got by. There were rules.

What does get by mean in the passage?

The setting is in the office. Seth is her co-worker; she is asking Georgie how it went the conversation with Neal (her husband) last night about not being able to go on a vacation planned with him because of work.

1 Answer 1


The primal meaning of the phrasal verb "to get by" is "to be ​able to ​live or ​deal with a ​situation with ​difficulty", so according to the rules both Seth and Georgie conform to, they got used to not mentioning Neal's name in the conversation.

  • 1
    Since they all "got by", the implication isn't so much that Seth and Georgie "got used to" not mentioning Neal. More likely it means everyone in the office observed the convention of avoiding direct references to the domestic circumstances of their co-workers (they found it easier to get through the working day if they kept things "professional / impersonal" while at the office). Oct 1, 2015 at 12:22

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