Where does gots come from?
🚨 grammar alert 🚨
In a number of dialects of American English, including Southern and Black English, gots became a form of the verb get (e.g., I gots, she gots, they gots). Got is the past form of get, and it probably shifted to the present when speakers stopped converting to past tense even though what they were saying was … in the past tense (e.g., I got or he got). The -s was then added, most likely so it flowed a little better in speech, modeled after words like she runs or he talks.
We can find maybe the first use of gots—nonstandard, spoken forms didn’t often get written down—in DuBose Heyward’s 1925 novel, Porgy, about a beggar living in the black tenements of Charleston, South Carolina in the 1920s.
Examples of gots
Who uses gots?
Gots is still used in speech in Southern and Black English.
Interestingly, a feature of the grammar of Black English is to drop -s from present verbs (e.g., he walk to the store). This seems to have helped give gots some juice. In their 1988 hip-hop classic “You Gots to Chill,” EMPD is making it clear that you really need to relax.
Gots is also used to sound funny or playful, taking advantage of its informality. Just like get, gots often appears in personal constructions (I gots me a new car!) or infinitive phrases (I gots to go!)
i gots a phatass headache :’-( pic.twitter.com/pg8crJFeca
— 4Tz (@litzieperez_) June 14, 2018
Others, however, take advantage of the fact that gots is nonstandard, using it to make fun of English dialects. Lame.
This is not meant to be a formal definition of gots like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of gots that will help our users expand their word mastery.