Top 10 Success Idioms

success idioms

success idioms

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.

1. Dress for success

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.

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!

3. Key to success

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.

4. (Be a) howling success

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 X will be a howling success too.

5. Hit a home run

Hit a home run is an expression that comes from the sport of Baseball. When a player hit 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!

6. It’s in the bag

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!

7. Rags to riches

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.

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.

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.

Check your Grammar ››

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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2 years ago

Hi Katherine
I really enjoyed the lesson(s). It was written in such a plain language that I couldn’t stop reading. Really engrossed me.
Anyway, keep going, the sky’s the limit. 🙂
Best wishes from iran

Anastasia Koltai
Reply to  Mehdi
2 years ago

Thank you so much! Sky is the limit! – like this expression!