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What Does "Easy Does It" Mean?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2014
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The phrase "easy does it" is an idiom, which means it is not meant to be taken literally but has a commonly understood meaning instead. When a person says easy does it, he usually means accomplishing something in a calm, smooth, slow manner. The phrase also means avoiding hard or jerky movements. For example, if a person needs to lift and carry something of great value that could easily break if he is not careful, he might say, "Easy does it," in an effort to remind himself or others to be very careful in moving it.

Often, people use words and phrases to mean something other than their literal meanings. This is often done in order to make spoken words more interesting or colorful. This type of speech, however, is also used because it becomes a common way of expressing something. The idioms that are commonly used tend to vary from country to country and even by different regions within a particular country. In some countries, such as the United States, the idiom "easy does it" is commonly used to mean slowly and carefully.

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When an individual is trying to understand the meaning of the phrase "easy does it," he may have the best luck if he considers an example. For instance, this phrase might be used in a situation in which a person is supervising the moving of a very tall and elaborate wedding cake. In such a case, he may use the phrase to advise those moving the cake to use slow and careful movements as opposed to fast, hard, or jarring movements that could lead to the ruining of the cake.

A person may also use this phrase when he is talking about the movements of a person. For example, if a person must climb a steep hill or a ladder on which he could injure himself, an individual who is helping him with the climb or even just observing may say, "Easy does it." In this case, the person who uses the phrase simply means to go slowly and carefully.

Typically, idioms such as easy does it are well accepted in casual speech. For example, they are often used in conversation with friends or family members as well as with coworkers and sometimes business associates. They are generally not used in formal speech, however, unless the speaker is using them in a joking manner. Likewise, they aren't usually used in formal writing.

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