While reading a graded reader for German learners (Momente in München) I ran across the expression "Ran an die Arbeit" and wanted to understand why it means "Get to work"?
I searched in several places and realized that I didn't know what 'ran' meant here. Was it a verb? A verb prefix? To my surprise, I received no help when looking up 'ran' in Linguee, google translate, deepL or leo.org. The free dictionary defines 'ran' as 'come on, go it" which doesn't make much sense (especially the "go it" part). But it made me think 'ran' is perhaps an interjection that is used idiomatically like "come on" sometimes is in English. That's the best I can figure so far.
A search for "ran an" at Tatoeba.org gives several examples. Here are some simple ones with their translations. Some of them seem to fit the "come on" translation, but not all.
Nun mal ran an die Arbeit (Now let's get down to work)
Ran an den Speck! (Go ahead! Don't be shy!)
Geh nicht an dieses Telefon ran! (Don't pick up that phone)
Tom lässt keinen an sich ran (Tom is very private)