Get In On the Ground Floor

Also: Let someone in on the ground floor

Meaning of Idiom ‘Get in on the Ground Floor’

To get in on the ground floor is to become involved in something, often a business or enterprise from the very beginning or early stages of its development. To let someone in on the ground floor is to let them become involved from the very beginning. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms]. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. ,2McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002,3Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

Usage

This idiom is used when an opportunity for great success exists. It is not used casually for any circumstance where a person might be involved in something from the very start. For example, we might say, “He was smart to invest in computer chips when he did. He got in on the ground floor of multi-billion dollar business.” We would not say, however, “Bill got in on the ground floor of the new neighborhood watch.”

When someone is let into a business on the ground floor, it usually means that they come into the business on the same terms of those who started it.

Examples Of Use

“I’m sure if you get in on the ground floor you will make a fortune,” said the investment counselor.

“My uncle missed an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the biggest donut chain in the country.”

“I have a great opportunity to make a huge profit, and I’m willing to let you in on the ground floor.”

Origin

Used since the first half of the 1800s. 4Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms]. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.  The allusion here is to a large building being built from the ground floor up, so that to “get in on the ground floor” is to be a part of something that will eventually be very large, providing one the potential for great wealth, success, or advantage.

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Sources   [ + ]

1, 4. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms]. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. 
2. McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002
3. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.