To avoid or escape punishment

In English, we use several different expressions to talk about the act of escaping or avoiding punishment.

Get away with

When you get away with something you manage to do something bad without getting punished for it.

  • You can’t get away with murder.
  • How can you get away with such an offensive remark?

Get off lightly /be let off lightly

When you get off lightly, you receive only light punishment.

  • He thought that he would be let off lightly, but he got 12 years prison.


When you go unpunished, you are not punished for doing something wrong.

  • We cannot let such a mistake go unpunished.

Save your hide / save someone’s hide

To save your hide is to save yourself from getting punished.

Beat the rap

To beat the rap is to escape being punished.

  • He was charged with drunk driving, but his lawyer helped him beat the rap.

Get away/get off scot-free

To get away scot-free is to avoid punishment for doing a punishable offence.

  • There is no point in taking out a complaint against him. He will get off scot-free.
  • At least some people believe that if they are rich and influential they can commit just about any offence and get off scot-free.