In German there is a phrase : auf etw. hinauswollen

dict.leo.org translates it with : to get at sth.

However, there is also a phrase : Worauf wollen sie hinaus? A word by word translation would be : What are you getting at?

But, according to leo, it menas: What are you driving at?

--> I wonder if to get at sth and to drive at sth mean the same? If not or if they're just slightly different, where is the difference?

Hi Globetrotter,

I think 'getting at' and 'driving at' are different enough to warrant a decision as to which may be more appropriate in a given context. 'Driving at', in its character as a simile, (driving a car, driving a spike, etc.) has a greater sense of control or force.
I suppose 'what are you getting at?' can have a greater sense of 'defensiveness', in its sense of 'what exactly are you insinuating'; whereas 'what are you driving at' has more of a sense of 'what is the purpose of this series of questions/comments?'.

But I expect other members would reverse the meanings.

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Thanks for your answers!
So, just to make sure that I got it.
For example, if something great happened. My moms says: Take a guess, what happened today, with a smile.
Then I would say what are you driving at because I expect something positive like having been awarded a scholarship or having gotten a confirmation for a job.

But if my mom shows up in my room giving me the impression that she is mad at me and asking: What did you do yesterday? Then I would say: What are you getting at? Since I commited a crime yesterday and the police called a couple of minutes ago.

Did I get it or did I misunderstand it?

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