What is the meaning of "it gets" in "Traffic this morning is as bad as it gets"? Does it mean that the traffic will never be worse than now?I guess that this sentense means the traffic will...

What is the meaning of "it gets" in "Traffic this morning is as bad as it gets"? Does it mean that the traffic will never be worse than now?

I guess that this sentense means the traffic will never be worse than now because "it gets," the traffic reaches the bad condition now. If it means otherwise than this, what does it mean and I want to know what "gets" means literally. I guess it means "reaches."

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Along with being approached as an idiom, the phrase "traffic is as bad as it gets" can be approached as a standard analogy in the Something is as [blank] as Blank. An example of this is, "Juan's cat is as big as a house." Both idioms and analogies have elements of figurative, non-literal, meaning to them. You can recognize this because you know that no cat can really be the size of a house. This form of comparative analogy makes a point by comparing two things that are not the same. In the example's case, a cat and a house are compared to make a point that the cat is really large!

In the phrase that concerns you, "traffic is as bad as it gets," traffic is compared in a negative way ("bad") to "it." So our first step is to define "it" before defining "gets." In this case, "it" is a pronoun substituting for "traffic." We can paraphrase by writing, "Traffic is as bad as traffic gets." The word "gets," or more correctly the non-plural form "get," has many definitions. It can mean "to come into possession," “to go after or obtain," "to acquire as a result of effort," "to accomplish," "to be affected by," among many others. The two definitions of "get" that are relevant here are:

To arrive at; reach.
To cause to become or be in a specified state or condition. (TheFreeDictionary.com)

To put these into a paraphrase, we might write: "Traffic is as bad as traffic can be [specifying a state or condition of existence]." Or we equally might write: "Traffic is as bad as traffic [ever] reaches [specifying reaching or the attainment of a level]."

When examined for conventional English usage, the first paraphrase using the definition of "get" as a state or condition of being is the preferable one; this is because traffic is a condition. In the second paraphrase, with the definition of "get" as reach, the meaning of "reach" implies a progression, a movement from a beginning to an end, as when you reach home from a starting point or when you reach a decision from following a chain of reasoning.

Thus approaching "Traffic is as bad as it gets" as an analogy, we find that on the morning in question, present traffic conditions are being compared to the ultimate state of traffic conditions. The comparison reveals that one finds that while one can conceive that traffic may not be at the ultimately bad level (or then again, it may be!), traffic certainly looks like it is at the ultimately bad level for traffic conditions.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The idiomatic expression of "it gets" in the sentence helps to bring out a rather paradoxical notion of language.  On one hand, it seeks to bring to light a condition that should connect to everyone.  The notion of traffic being as "bad as it gets" helps to bring to light how difficult traffic is this morning.  The listener contrasts it with their own experience.  For example, the listener might think that traffic was bad yesterday morning.  The thought process is to imagine how much worse yesterday morning could have been, how much worse it could be.  Yet, it is within this point that the paradox lies.  While the idea of "as bad as it gets" helps to bring out some level of connection, there is not a full understanding of it.  The listener can only use their own experience to judge as to "how bad it can get."  There is no firm or quantifiable means to judge this.  What is perceived "as bad as it gets" from one is not necessarily what another could read.  In the end, the phrase is used to bring out a condition that one is able to which one can forge connection, but whose exact meaning is a bit obscure.  In the sentence, it is meant to symbolize how confusing and congested traffic patterns can be, not really to be literally meant.  If there is literal meaning here, I think it would be along the lines of asking the listener to imagine the worst traffic could be and apply it to the specific context, in question.

ige | Student

good day! 'it gets' can be deduced to mean the way or means whereby traffic is been experienced is goint to be uneasy task very soon... it gets can also be said to be bad conditions traffic poses in our day to day activities is getting exagerated everyday and will get people choked up.