Bring one’s A-game

Bring one’s A-game is an idiom that has been in use for about half a century. We will examine the meaning of the idiom bring one’s A-game, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

To bring one’s A-game means to do one’s best, to perform at the highest level that is possible for that person. Someone who is demonstrating his peak ability in a certain arena is said to bring his A-game. The expression bring one’s A-game was first used to describe an athlete who is turning in his best performance possible. The term bring one’s A-game originated in the United States in the mid-twentieth century. Related phrases are brings one’s A-game, brought one’s A-game, bringing one’s A-game. Alternatively, the term is rendered without a hyphen, as in bring your A game or even bring your “A” game. Note that the “A” in A-game is capitalized; it is a reference to the letter grade “A” awarded to students for excellent work. The word A-game or A game was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2020.

Examples

They play really well, and you have to bring your A-game at all times to compete with them. (The St. Augustine Record)

Gordon’s motto for living is, “You only live once, so make sure you bring your A-game so there are no regrets looking back when you are older.” (Chicago Agent Magazine)

Farage brought his A game to South Thanet, by which I mean he courted the area with the most obnoxious manoeuvres his imagination could yield. (The Guardian)

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