Many phrases about success can be specific to a situation or type of event. In our list below we will try to explain not only what these particular success idioms mean but also where and how to use them.
No hidden meanings here, this idiom means you need to dress in clothes or such a fashion that others believe you to be a success in life. We can use it when going for a job interview or a new work proposal.
- I am going to dress for success and put on my best suit for the interview.
|English||Dress for success|
|Spanish||Vístete de éxito|
|French||S’habiller pour réussir|
|Italian||Vestirsi per il successo|
|German||Verkleiden Sie sich für Erfolg|
|Portuguese||Vestir-se para o sucesso|
|Russian||Одевайся для успеха|
|Polish||Ubierz się na sukces|
2. You have got to be in it to win it!
Often used for competitions this phrase is what’s called a call to action too. It encourages the listener to join in a competition, or another exclusive event, to have a chance of winning or being successful.
- Sign up now; you’ve got to be in it to win it!
|English||You have got to be in the game to win it!|
|Spanish||¡Hay que estar en el juego para ganarlo!|
|French||Il faut être dans le jeu pour gagner !|
|Italian||Bisogna essere in gioco per vincere!|
|German||Man muss im Spiel sein, um es zu gewinnen!|
|Portuguese||É preciso estar no jogo para o ganhar!|
|Russian||Ты должен быть в игре, чтобы выиграть!|
|Polish||Musisz być w grze, aby ją wygrać!|
Just like an actual key opens a door, we can apply this idiom to the thing that is most important to being successful. It has many different uses in both a working environment or in general speech.
The key to success as a salesman is communication.
- Practice is the key to success.
|English||Key to success|
|Spanish||La clave del éxito|
|French||La clé du succès|
|Italian||La chiave del successo|
|German||Schlüssel zum Erfolg|
|Portuguese||A chave do sucesso|
|Russian||Ключ к успеху|
|Polish||Klucz do sukcesu|
While the word howl is typically used to describe a loud continuous noise, a howling success is a colloquial expression. It is most frequently used to describe something in the present or past that was very successful.
- Because the first iPhone was a revolutionary product, it became a howling success.
- Everyone hopes the new iPhone 14 will be a howling success too.
|English||Be a howling success|
|Spanish||Ser un éxito rotundo|
|French||Soyez un succès éclatant|
|Italian||Essere un successo ululante|
|German||Seien Sie ein heulender Erfolg|
|Portuguese||Seja um sucesso uivante|
|Russian||Будьте завывающим успехом|
|Polish||Bądź wyjącym sukcesem|
Hit a home run is an expression that comes from the sport of Baseball. When a player hits a ball out of the reach of the other team, it was considered a home run and one point was awarded. This phrase, therefore, has become a standard reference about being successful.
- You hit a home run with that last sale!
|English||Hit a home run|
|Spanish||Golpear un home run|
|French||Faire un home run|
|Italian||Colpire un home run|
|German||Einen Homerun schlagen|
|Portuguese||Fazer um home run|
|Polish||Uderz w dom|
When someone is very confident that they will be successful, a person could use this idiom to show how sure they are of success.
- Don’t worry; I will finish the report in time. It’s in the bag!
|English||Success is in the bag|
|Spanish||El éxito está en la bolsa|
|French||Le succès est dans le sac|
|Italian||Il successo è nella borsa|
|German||Der Erfolg ist in der Tasche|
|Portuguese||O sucesso está no saco|
|Russian||Успех в кармане|
|Polish||Sukces jest w torbie|
Rags is a reference to the lousy state of clothing a person who is poor and living in the street may wear. However, rags to riches is used to describe the success of a person who was once very poor and has now become rich or wealthy.
- The new movie they are making is about rags to riches story and how the main character overcame all of the problems he faced.
|English||Rags to riches|
|Spanish||De la pobreza a la riqueza|
|French||Des chiffons à la richesse|
|Italian||Dagli stracci alle ricchezze|
|German||Vom Tellerwäscher zum Millionär|
|Portuguese||Trajectórias para a riqueza|
|Russian||От тряпок до богатства|
|Polish||Od szmat do bogactwa|
8. Bear / born fruit
A tree that grows and produces fruit is considered to be successful, therefore when something works well, correctly or successfully we can say it has born fruit.
- Once we start advertising the new restaurant, we will see it bear fruit.
- The new business has finally born fruit.
9. See the light at the end of the tunnel
Just like a real, long tunnel, when you go inside you cannot see the end. However, as you get closer to the end, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s like saying that success is not that far away.
- It took a while for us to get new clients but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
|English||The light at the end of the tunnel|
|Spanish||La luz al final del túnel|
|French||La lumière au bout du tunnel|
|Italian||La luce alla fine del tunnel|
|German||Das Licht am Ende des Tunnels|
|Portuguese||A luz ao fundo do túnel|
|Russian||Свет в конце туннеля|
|Polish||Światełko na końcu tunelu|
10. The sky’s the limit
When we do well at something, others around us may comment, the sky’s the limit. It means we are so successful that there are almost no limitations to accomplishing whatever we want to do.
- You paint so well, keep going, the sky’s the limit.
|English||The sky’s the limit|
|Spanish||El cielo es el límite|
|French||Le ciel est la limite|
|Italian||Il cielo è il limite|
|German||Der Himmel ist die Grenze|
|Portuguese||O céu é o limite|
|Russian||Небо – это предел|
|Polish||Niebo jest granicą|
11. To have overnight success
When somethings happens overnight it happens very fast. In the same manner, you can also have overnight success. It means that you have achieved that success in the quickest amount of time possible. It does not have to be one night, but it is very fast compared to others.
- With her smash hit song, she achieved overnight success and became a star instantly.
|Spanish||Éxito de la noche a la mañana|
|French||Succès du jour au lendemain|
|Portuguese||Sucesso durante a noite|
|Polish||Sukces z dnia na dzień|
This is a very important idiom because it teaches us that sometimes you have to fail to succeed. When we say that failure teaches success it means that we learn from our mistakes. In many cases, you don’t succeed by immediately being right. When you fail you learn more, you come back stronger, and then you become successful.
- This project was not a complete failure. We need to pick ourselves back up and try again. We all know that failure teaches success.
|English||Failure teaches success|
|Spanish||El fracaso enseña el éxito|
|French||L’échec enseigne le succès|
|Italian||Il fallimento insegna il successo|
|German||Scheitern lehrt Erfolg|
|Portuguese||O fracasso ensina o sucesso|
|Russian||Провал учит успеху|
|Polish||Porażka uczy sukcesu|
13. Every dog has its day
This is a commonly used idiom that reminds how every person can achieve success. Dogs don’t always have the best lives, but they get lucky and have a good day every once in a while. The same goes for people. Some people have streaks of bad luck, or just can’t seem to get ahead in life. At some point they will, and when we say that every dog has his day we mean that even people with bad luck will one day succeed.
- I’ve seen Josh struggle for years to get ahead in the company. He’s been on a losing streak for almost a year. Now he got a huge client and is finally making progress. I guess every dog has it’s day.
|English||Every dog has its day|
|Spanish||Cada perro tiene su día|
|French||Chaque chien a son jour|
|Italian||Ogni cane ha il suo giorno|
|German||Jeder Hund hat seinen Tag|
|Portuguese||Cada cão tem o seu dia|
|Russian||У каждой собаки есть свой день|
|Polish||Każdy pies ma swój dzień|
14. To make a killing
This is an idiom commonly used in finance and banking. It’s directly linked to money. To make a killing means to earn a lot of money very quickly. Usually with one job or a big investment. It means that you have achieved monetary success as quickly as possible.
- This is one of the best investments we’ve ever made. We were in and out the door in a day, and we made a killing.
|English||Make a killing|
|Spanish||Hacer una matanza|
|French||Faire une mise à mort|
|Italian||Fare una strage|
|German||Einen Treffer landen|
|Portuguese||Fazer uma matança|
|Polish||Zarabiać na zabijaniu|
15. To catch the wave
The sea is either calm or wavy, and a lot of people like to surf on waves. This is an idiom that comes from sports, specifically surfing. When surfers catch a wave they use it for a very long ride. This can also translate to success. When you catch a wave it means that you are riding on success, and that it keeps going and going.
- We’ve recorded our first album and a couple of record label executives came to our show. Some of them even gave us offers. We’ve caught that wave now!
|English||Catch the wave|
|Spanish||Atrapa la ola|
|French||Capter la vague|
|German||Fangen Sie die Welle|
|Portuguese||Apanhar a onda|
16. Count your chickens before they hatch
We all know that chickens hatch from eggs. However, sometimes chickens don’t end up hatching from an egg because it’s sadly dead. When you count your chickens before they’re hatched it means that you are expecting a level of success that you might not get. This is an idiom that tells us to be careful when betting on success.
- I told him time and time again. But no, he’s just counting his chickens before they’re hatched. Now we’re losing clients because his investment failed.
|English||Count your chickens before they hatch|
|Spanish||Cuente sus pollos antes de que nazcan|
|French||Comptez vos poulets avant qu’ils n’éclosent|
|Italian||Conta i tuoi polli prima che si schiudano|
|German||Zählen Sie Ihre Hühner, bevor sie schlüpfen|
|Portuguese||Conte as suas galinhas antes de eclodirem|
|Russian||Посчитайте ваших цыплят, пока они не вылупились|
|Polish||Policz swoje kurczaki zanim się wyklują|
17. To kill two birds with one stone
This is one of the most famous idioms about success. It’s not literal, but the image is important. If you ever had to throw a stone at some birds, and that stone hits two instead of just one, that means it’s an even more successful throw than you expected. As an idiom it means to deal with two problems successfully, even though you only used one method to achieve it.
- If we put Harrison in with James we can kill two birds with one stone. Both of them want to work with Alice, and their cases are similar. We save time and money, and both of them end up happy.
|English||Kill two birds with one stone|
|Spanish||Matar dos pájaros de un tiro|
|French||Faire d’une pierre deux coups|
|Italian||Prendere due piccioni con una fava|
|German||Zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen|
|Portuguese||Matar dois pássaros com uma cajadada só|
|Russian||Убить двух зайцев одним выстрелом|
|Polish||Upiec dwie pieczenie na jednym ogniu|
18. A win-win situation
This is a common idiom we use when two parties can both achieve success in a situation. It describes a scenario where no party loses. It’s one of the absolute ways to achieve success.
- You guys take care of renovating the docks. The construction company handling the parking lot can take over the new office building, and we can finish the parking lot to transfer for the final workload back to the docks. It sounds complicated, but trust me it’s a win-win situation for all of us.
|English||A win-win situation|
|Spanish||Una situación en la que todos salen ganando|
|French||Une situation gagnant-gagnant|
|Italian||Una situazione vantaggiosa per tutti|
|Portuguese||Uma situação vantajosa para ambas as partes|
|Polish||Sytuacja, w której wygrywają obie strony|
19. Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Success doesn’t always come easy. It more often than not takes hard work and dedication. You need to find a way to succeed. When we say where there’s a will, there’s a way we mean that if you continue to try hard enough you will find that way. Even if success isn’t easy, just keep trying and you will make it.
- We can’t stop now. We might be losing but where there’s a will, there’s a way. We can still make it.
|English||Where there’s a will, there’s a way|
|Spanish||Donde hay voluntad, hay un camino|
|French||Là où il y a une volonté, il y a un moyen|
|Italian||Dove c’è una volontà, c’è un modo|
|German||Wo ein Wille ist, ist auch ein Weg|
|Portuguese||Onde há vontade, há uma maneira|
|Russian||Там, где есть желание, есть способ…|
|Polish||Gdzie jest wola, tam jest i sposób|
20. To strike gold
Sometimes success doesn’t come just from hard work and dedication. It can also happen by chance. In many cases luck is just as important as hard work. When we say that someone struck gold we mean that they have achieved a great amount of success thanks to luck.
- This was a dead-end client who had no prospects. Melissa took him in and then she struck gold. They patented their product and now the stock is soaring.
|Spanish||Golpea el oro|
|French||Trouver de l’or|
|Portuguese||Golpe de ouro|
|Polish||Uderzenie w złoto|
While there are other idioms related to success, we have tried to select the most commonly heard and most frequently used. Do you know any different phrases about success? Let us know with a comment!
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