Get it out of your system

2012-06-01 14:25



Get it out of your system

Reader question:

Please explain this sentence – I’ve been thinking about steak for a month and now I’ve finally got it out of my system? What “system” exactly?

My comments:

The system refers to one’s digestive system. This is the literal meaning of “getting something out of one’s system”:

One eats something bad, for instance, and is eager to get it out of their body. Some vomit it out. Some take medication. Others simply drink lots of water and then wait for the human digestive system to work its wonder, or magic, or in other words, to let nature take its course.

To wit, you empty your bowels to get it out of your digestive system.

Anyways, that’s the literal meaning of “getting something out of one’s system”, meaning that you’ve gotten rid of something bad.

Figuratively speaking, you can get anything undesirable out of your system. For example you can get cigarettes out of your system, meaning you’ve finally quit smoking. Or you can get a certain bad feeling out of your system, such as depression or self loathing. This means that you are now able to cheer and enjoy yourself again, regaining a healthy sense of esteem and confidence.

In the top example, steak is what’s being gotten rid off, or the yearning for it to be exact. The speaker has been yearning for steak for a month and finally he/she no longer wants to eat it.

And what a relief that is, supposing the person in question has been on diet to lose weight, to cut the intake of red meat, or to newly embark on the vegetarian road.

Whatever the case, remember “getting something out of your system” suggests totality as well as finality, emphasizing that you’ve got rid of something once and for all.

In other words, there’s no turning back. For example, you used to play a lot of computer games, a little more than what was good for your eyes, neck, shoulders and back. Fortunately for you, you got that out of my system a few years ago. These days, you may play a little with friends if they ask you to, but it’s not something you’d do alone, all day and night, as you did before. That kind of yen or yearning is no longer there.

Good for you, because you can do something else with your time, do something more productive and less stressful.

Alright, let’s read a few recent media examples of people getting one thing or another out of their system:

1. Big brewers have taken the unusual step of watering down their beer in Britain, and they’re hoping customers won’t notice.

The reason comes down to taxes. The “beer duty” is incredibly steep; about a third of a pint’s total price goes to taxes, the BBC reports.

But there’s a twist: The stronger the beer, the more taxes brewers have to pay. So the brewing industry is hoping to cut its tax burden with weaker beer, but not so weak as to lose customers.

Anheuser-Busch Inbev has cut the potency of Stella Artois, Becks and Budweiser, the BBC reports. OK, you can have a minute to joke about what a weaker Budweiser would taste like. Got it out of your system? Let’s move on.

The reduction could save Anheuser-Busch $13.6 million a year in taxes. Another brewer, Carlsberg, has cut the alcohol by volume of one of its beers, Carlsberg Export, to 4.8% from 5%, the BBC reports. It’s a small reduction, one that probably will go unnoticed by most drinkers.

- British beer gets weaker,, March 16, 2012.

2. Every singer knows the List: citrus, vinegar, mint, dairy, spicy or fried foods, fizzy drinks, caffeine, cigarettes, and alcohol. These are the vocal cords’ enemies. And when one has a five-octave contralto as dynamic, award-winning, money¬making, and record-breaking as Adele Laurie Blue Adkins does, one figures out how to avoid these things. Some require less effort than others. Mint? Vinegar? Feh. Cigarettes? Not so easy. Over the few days that I spend around Adele, I see her sneak a fag here and there. No one is perfect. But alcohol? For a once hard-drinking South London pub girl who has admitted that she has written some of her best songs after a few belts, I would have thought this might present something of a challenge. Not so much, it turns out. Adele hasn’t had a drink since last June. She gave it up cold turkey right around her birthday (May 5) last year. “Don’t like drinking anymore,” she says in an accent that falls somewhere between Eliza Doolittle and David Beckham. “I think I got it out of my system. D’yaknowhaImean?”

- Adele: One and Only, by Jonathan Van Meter,, February 13, 2012.

3. “C’mon, Eddie.”

Wallow in the absurdity of Doc Rivers being hit with a technical foul for not properly genuflecting before referee Eddie Malloy.

Cringe at Kevin Garnett drawing a team technical after tapping the ball.

Vent at the travesty of what passes for officiating in the NBA when you're favored team is facing the Miami Heat in South Beach.

Get it out of your system.

Now, let’s talk about what matters after Boston’s 93-79 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Starting with the amazing end-to-end play of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

Or the 11 blocked shots by the Heat.

Or the continued lack of production from the Celtics bench.

James was unstoppable Monday night. The Celtics were unwatchable for three out of four quarters. Clanged free-throws. Missed jumpers. Tepid defense in the second half. Even when they took two points off the board at half-time, all the Celtics could do was manage a tie. Boston has yet to hold a lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

- Don’t blame the refs, blame the Celtics,, May 28, 2012.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


All comers?

Victory lap?

Deer in headlights?

Scratching the surface?

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)

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