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Steal someone’s thunder

To steal someone’s thunder means to steal the attention from that person, usually by using that person’s idea to gain attention or approval. Interestingly, the origin of the idiom steal someone’s thunder can be pinpointed to an exact moment in time, 1704. The original use of the phrase steal someone’s thunder was quite literal. John Dennis was an unsuccessful playwright, his production Appius and Virginia was unremarkable except for his invention of a new method for producing the sound of thunder for the stage. Appius and Virginia closed quickly. Later, Dennis attended a production of Macbeth and discovered that the theater was using his own method for producing the sound of thunder. Outraged, he is reported to have leapt to his feet and shouted, “Damn them! They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder.” Related terms are stole someone’s thunder, stealing someone’s thunder.


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Examples

End of era for Spain after energetic Italy steal their thunder (The Guardian)

If recent reports are considered, this could be an effort to steal Salman’s thunder. (The International Business Times)

Rose joked there’s only one other guy that could steal his thunder in his hometown and that’s all-time great and fellow Cincinnati native, Barry Larkin. (The Cincinnati Times-Leader)

‘We didn’t want to steal his thunder when he was leaving from Perth, so we met him at the Baigle roundabout.” (The Courier)

Certainly if the preceding 24 hours had gone better — had he not hinted at the president’s purported Muslim sympathies, not behaved unpresidentially in his first “big event” moment since wrapping up the nomination, not flubbed a line in his speech accusing the Orlando killer of being born in Afghanistan and not seen Hillary Clinton steal his thunder with a full-throated condemnation of Islamic terrorism — he likely would not have thrown a temper tantrum when a headline didn’t strike his fancy. (The Washington Post)

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