Go the Distance — Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

The saying to go the distance means to finish a really hard task or fully commit to achieving a goal of some sort. Curious about where this energizing phrase comes from and how you can use it to add a punch to your conversation or writing? I’ll detail everything you need to know about using this expression right here in this short guide.

Go the Distance Meaning Explained

Go the Distance — Meaning Origin

When you say you’re going to go the distance, you’re not actually lacing up your running shoes to go for a jog. Although, you could use the phrase in a literal sense in that case.

But, as an idiom, you’re just expressing your intense dedication to see a task or project through to the very end, no matter the obstacles that come your way.

It’s about having the perseverance and commitment to finish what you’ve started. Think of Rocky Balboa training relentlessly for his fights—he was all about going the distance! Or imagine if the Egyptians didn’t bother going the distance to finish the pyramids. Our history books would look a lot different, wouldn’t they?

Origin and Etymology Behind Go the Distance

Go the Distance Ngram
Go the distance usage trend.

The phrase go the distance apparently comes from sports like boxing. It was originally used to describe when a fighter would last for the full scheduled length of a bout rather than being knocked out early.

But there are some other sources that state the saying derived from horse racing and how the horses would have to go a certain distance to either catch up with the one ahead of them or get to the finish line.

Now it’s just a common idiom we use to express the idea of having to do whatever it takes.

Go the Distance Synonyms

If go the distance feels a bit too athletic for your taste, feel free to swap it out with one of these synonyms:

  • See it through
  • Stick it out
  • Persist
  • Keep at it
  • Hang in there
  • Stay the course

Using Go the Distance in a Sentence

Go the Distance — Meaning Origin 1

  • Even though the project was tough, I knew I had to go the distance to impress my boss and get that promotion.
  • With enough practice and determination, I truly believe this team can go the distance and make it to finals.
  • Even when things got extra tough in university, Mary went the distance and finally got her Ph.D. in special education.
  • I’m not sure if this old, junky car can even go the distance we’re planning for our cross-country trip.
  • Even with an injury, the marathon runner went the distance and crossed that finish line.
  • I’ve started this business, and I’m ready to go the distance and make it successful.
  • The students were determined to go the distance and finish their local environmental project.
  • My grandfather is a war veteran who knows what it really means to go the distance.
  • We’re so close to reaching our fundraising goal for the new playground, and we’re ready to go the distance to get there.
  • No matter what comes my way, I’ll always go the distance needed to reach my dreams of becoming a big-time author.

Ringing the Final Bell

Now you’re all prepped and ready to use the expression go the distance like a pro. It doesn’t matter if you’re working toward big goals in life or just committing to finishing your laundry; this idiom is a knockout choice for expressing the idea of determination and tenacity we have.