Going from strength to strength (The language of success, Part 3)

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by Kate Woodford

In previous posts in this thread, we looked at nouns, verbs and phrasal verbs meaning ‘success’ and ‘succeed’. In this post, we focus on idioms in this area.

Let’s start with two nice ‘succeed’ idioms that relate to beginning something successfully. If you get off to a flying start, you start something very successfully. Someone who hits the ground running, succeeds as soon as they start work, after putting all their energy into it:

They got off to a flying start with three goals in the opening ten minutes.

She joined the company and from day one, hit the ground running.

Someone who passes a test with flying colours (UK)/with flying colors (US), passes extremely well, getting excellent grades. Meanwhile, someone who only just succeeds at something, having very nearly failed, may be said to succeed by the skin of their teeth:

He took four A levels in four terms, passing all with flying colours.

Joel passed the entrance exams by the skin of his teeth.

A person or company that is riding high is experiencing a period of great success. Someone who is doing (very) nicely is succeeding in business and making a lot of money, and a person or company that is going strong continues to be successful:

Seven months into his term, the mayor is riding high in the opinion polls. / Coach Jones and his team are riding high after their 27-14 win over Australia.

She started the business three years ago and she’s doing very nicely.

Twenty years later, the company is still going strong.

In UK English, to go from strength to strength is to become more and more successful:

Under her leadership, the company has gone from strength to strength.

If you make a go of something, especially a business or a relationship, you make it succeed by working or trying hard:

Running a café is tough, but he’s determined to make a go of it. / They’ve decided they want to live together and make a go of it.

If you say that someone never looked back, you mean that they were very successful after making an important change in their life:

Five years ago, he started his own company and never looked back. It’s been a huge success.

You sometimes hear people predicting that someone will go far/places, or will go a long way, meaning that they think the person will be very successful in their chosen profession:

He’s very talented and extremely determined. I’m sure he’ll go far. / With ambition like that, I’m sure she’ll go a long way.

Finally, to take a place or group of people by storm is to be suddenly extremely successful there or with those people:

She took the critics by storm with her first album.

That concludes my three-part series on the language of success. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and that you continue to go from strength to strength in your English studies!

11 thoughts on “Going from strength to strength (The language of success, Part 3)

  1. Sanath

    I wish you a happy New Year! I hope you will continue to help us go from strength to strength in using our English expressions!

  2. smeraldogarden

    Come across all 3 posts of your thread [the langugae of success] today. Hopefully I will nailed the end-term writing test with flying colors with these useful words! :’D

  3. Kuppusamy r

    I am happy to learn new vocabulary and high standards of English language. It is useful to me. With this i am teaching my grand children. Thank you

  4. Dennis Onyango

    I have learnt a lot. I am sure with continued practice on this page, I’ll go places in my English vocabulary .

  5. Dear teacher, heartfelt thanks for your so much useful articles. Just I went through two of your articles and got them very helpful for me to enhance my English skills. For a long time, I have been making a go of it but now, hope I can make it with flying colours.

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