ENGLISCH/808: Questions to Mrs Gobbledygook (146) In the bag? (SB)


146. What does "in the bag" mean?

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook

... In an article I read the other day I found a rather puzzling phrase. Could you possibly give me a clue what the expression "in the bag" means in English? I would be very thankful.

Yours sincerely,
Cha Chai (Thailand)


Dear Mr Cha Chai

This is an interesting question, because to a native speaker of English this is a colloquial idiom and by no means something to be unsure about.

The bag is of course a container in which you carry things. It is usually made of a soft material such as leather or cloth. A plastic bag is a special kind of bag you get in the supermarket if you haven't brought your own "shopping bag".

Now, the phrase "in the bag" can be used literally. See the following example:

A: Where shall I put this butter.
B: Put it in the bag with all the other things we've bought.

But there is an informal, idiomatic use of "in the bag" which has nothing to do with literally putting something into a plastic- or other kind of bag.

A: David has been working very hard to win an important order for his firm.
B: Well, don't worry. I think he's got it in the bag now.

In this context "in the bag" means simply that a person has got something for sure. It's already in his possession, therefore in his or her bag.

Hoping you got these explanations in your bag too and thanks for writing,


Mrs Gobbledygook

6. Oktober 2008