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Ahead of the curve vs ahead of the curb

  • Ahead of the curve is an idiom that is most probably derived from the military. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. An idiom can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker.  We will examine the definition of the phrase ahead of the curve, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    To be ahead of the curve is to be more advanced or modern than someone or something else, to be on the forefront of a trend, to get a jump-start on a craze or idea and to act upon it before others do. The phrase ahead of the curve may also mean to be above average in some way. The idiom ahead of the curve is an abbreviation of the expression ahead of the power curve. This renders a clue as to the origin of the term. The power curve is an aviation term which means the interaction between drag and airspeed, or how the engine power of a given aircraft acts upon that aircraft’s airspeed. The mathematics of the power curve may be plotted in a curve. When discussing the amount of power a pilot must ask of his aircraft engine in order to maintain speed and altitude, pilots may talk about being ahead of the power curve or maintaining good speed and altitude, or being behind the power curve in which case they lose speed and altitude. The idiom ahead of the power curve came into use in the 1920s, when more airplanes took to the skies. The idiom was shortened in the 1960s and 1970s to the phrase ahead of the curve, and was popularized by the Nixon administration.

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    The phrase ahead of the curb is an eggcorn, which is a misheard word or phrase that maintains its original meaning. Ahead of the curb is a fairly common mistake but it is incorrect, and should never be used.

    Examples

    “I think that ‘Supergirl’ has been ahead of the curve for a long time and I think that this sort of fits into the character of our showrunners, it fits into the character of Greg Berlanti [the series’ creator], it fits into their vision,” Brooks, who stars as James Olsen, told INSIDER. (The Insider)

    He said while it was good for policymakers to be ahead of the curve in tightening, they should take account of the growing clout of emerging markets. (Reuters)

    “I think we need to get ahead of the curve on the ADUs and start to put in our own vision of what an ADU looks like in Claremont and how to support that housing need,” he said. (The Claremont Courier)

    In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Pandey talks about the company’s current status, getting ahead of the curve, and standing out in the market. (The Kathmandu Post)

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