Let Me Get This Straight


"Let me get this straight ______." = "I am shocked by what you said."


We use this expression to introduce a repetition of what someone

else has said. We repeat what the other person has said because it

is so shocking that we need to mentally process the information

and clarify it for ourselves. 


Jane:   “I bought a new laptop last week. It's great.”

Jill:        “A new laptop? What about the money you owe me?"

Jane:   “Oh... well... I need the laptop to find a new job.”

Jill:        “Let me get this straight. You don't have a job, you owe

                 me money, and you think it's a good idea to buy a laptop?

                 What is wrong with you?"


1. Literature Reference: Author Dennis McFadden uses this expression in a 2015 short story for Fiction, "Lafferty's Ghost," to have a character express his shock that another character has sex with his marriage counselor: "'Let me get this straight,' the fat man said. 'You're shagging your bloody marriage counselor.'"   

2. Media Reference #1: Journalist Stacey Zapalac uses this idiom in a February 14th, 2020 article for The New York Times, entitled "Having ‘The Talk’ With My 80-Something Dad," to describe her shock upon learning that her elderly father was sexually active: "I was mentally prepared for the call I would receive someday notifying me of my elderly father’s death from one of his many chronic ailments. I would allow emotions to wash over me like a waterfall, then spring into action contacting family, friends and the funeral home. What I was unprepared for was the day I received a phone call from my father’s skilled nursing facility asking for permission to provide him contraceptives. 'Your father has made a new lady friend here and we want to know if we should provide him protection,' said the social worker on the phone. I held the phone away from my ear for a moment as I tried to hold back my urge to dry heave. 'Let me get this straight. My dad wants to get it on with his new "lady friend,"' I said back to the clearly mortified social worker." (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/14/well/family/seniors-sex-nursing-home-assisted-living.html)

3. Media Reference #2: Journalist Alisa Chang uses this idiom in an August 27th, 2018 NPR piece to describe her shock at a political development: "O.K., so let me get this straight. We could end up with having two separate agreements - one with Mexico, one with Canada, instead of a North American Agreement. Is that how this is going to work?" (https://www.npr.org/transcripts/641607366) (At 1 minute and 40 seconds into the broadcast.)

4.   Media Reference #3: Raymond Cruz's character of "Tuco Salamanca" uses this expression in season 1, episode 6 of the television series Breaking Bad ("Crazy Handful of "Nothin'") to express his shock at a turn of events: "Let me get this straight. I steal your dope, I beat the piss out of your mule boy, and then you walk in here and you bring me more meth? Whoo! That's a brilliant plan, ese!" (At 43 minutes and 15 seconds into the episode. Originally aired March 2nd, 2008.)

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