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get one's bearings

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Also, find one's bearings. Figure out one's position or situation relative to one's surroundings. For example, She's still new to the company and needs time to find her bearings, or I'll be along soon; just wait till I get my bearings. Naturally, one can also lose one's bearings, as in After we missed the turnpike exit, we completely lost our bearings. These phrases use bearings in the sense of “relative position,” a usage dating from the 1600s.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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