Victory! (Winning words)

by Kate Woodford
With the 2014 Commonwealth Games recently taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, our thoughts have turned to sporting success and we’re looking at the idioms and collocations (=word combinations) that are used to describe victory.

When a person or team succeeds in winning a game or competition, they may be said to gain a victory over their opponent(s): The Welsh side gained a victory over their rivals. Another way of saying this is that the game ends in triumph for one side: The game ended in triumph for Argentina. If they win with ease, they are sometimes said to cruise to victory: Juventus were never really in trouble as they cruised to victory over their Spanish rivals. An individual or side that cruises to victory may also be said to run rings around their opponents or (informal) wipe the floor with them: United rang rings around/wiped the floor with City. A victory in which the winning person or team is very much better than their opponent may be called a convincing win/victory or a comfortable win/victory: United began their tour with a convincing victory over LA Galaxy./Murray warmed up for Wimbledon with a comfortable victory over his opponent.

In informal UK English, a person or team may be said to play a blinder when they perform particularly well: Midfielder, Johnny Jones, played a blinder of a game. Another way of saying this is that they did not put a foot wrong: Another brilliant performance from this young defender – he didn’t put a foot wrong from start to finish. A person or team that wins everything that can be won in a set of sports competitions may be said to make a clean sweep or sweep the board: Guyana made a clean sweep of the team titles at the Shooting Championships. /Guyana swept the board.

In a sporting or a work context, we may talk about reaching the heights, meaning ‘achieving the highest level of success’: It wasn’t until he was in his early thirties that he reached the heights of his golfing career. (We may use the phrase dizzy heights, to sarcastically refer to a level that we don’t really believe is impressive: In the next tournament, we reached the dizzy heights of the quarter finals.) Similarly, we may say that someone is at the peak of their career or has reached the pinnacle of their career, meaning that they have achieved as much as anyone could in that profession: He was now captain of the national side and had reached the pinnacle of his career.

Whoever you support, may their games or competitions all end in triumph as they cruise effortlessly to victory!

5 thoughts on “Victory! (Winning words)

  1. Sports is an exceptionally rich source of colorful language and innovative idioms. But most of these innovations have obvious sources. For instance in American baseball, a player who gets 0 hits in a game may be said to “take a bagel” — a bagel is a bread roll shaped like a zero — or “wear the golden sombrero” — a sombrero is a Mexican hat with a large circular brim (to protect the wearer from the sun) that also resembles a zero.

    Nearly 100 years ago, my late grandmother taught English to the children of immigrants by having them read the sports pages of the local tabloids. Observing her neighbors, she saw that the sports pages were what young people wanted to read. Her students did quite well on their language tests, I might add. So reading sports news is not a bad way for learners to expand their knowledge of English. Bring your imagination!

  2. Luc007

    There are so many ways of expressing victory, that you could probably write a second article to complement this one, with such prases as “winning thumbs down”, “flat-out”, “crushing victory”, “apex of his career”, etc.

  3. Pingback: Teksty tematyczne do nauki słownictwa. | Kramik z angielskim

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