Blaze a trail

Blaze a trail is an idiom. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, 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. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom blaze a trail, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Blaze a trail means to lead the way, to be a pioneer, to be the first to do something with the assumption that others will eventually follow. The expression blaze a trail can also be used literally to mean to mark a trail by cutting notches in trees, tying flags to branches, etc. The idea is that one is making a new path for others to follow. The term blaze a trail came into literal use in the 1700s; the figurative meaning of blaze a trail came much later, during the twentieth century. A blaze is a trail marking. Related phrases are blazes a trail, blazed a trail, blazing a trail.

Examples

As long as uninsured Illinoisans struggle to afford reproductive care, the state legislature must blaze a trail by developing programs for all those in need, regardless of medical coverage. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Raised in Mobile, Alabama, Flo grew up listening to Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Young Thug and Anthony Hamilton while watching Nicki Minaj, Trina and Eve blaze a trail for more female rappers to follow them, including herself. (Billboard Magazine)

‘It’s not okay we’ve to go above and beyond to prove ourselves’: female farmers using social media to blaze a trail for equality (Independent)

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