Go The Extra Mile – Idiom, Meaning & Examples

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Go the extra mile is an idiom with its roots in biblical times. An idiom is a word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. It often makes the English language more complicated for English language learners.

Idioms also help create a more interesting and emotional message when used correctly, which is why learning what they mean and how they can be used is an important step toward mastering the English language.

The following explains the meaning of going the extra mile and how to use it in your speech and writing.

What Does It Mean to Go the Extra Mile?

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To go the extra mile means to go above and beyond what is expected, to make a bigger effort than is required, and to exert special energy in order to accomplish something. Related phrases are goes the extra mile, went the extra mile, and going the extra mile.

For example:

  • The community project was important to the graduating class, which is why they went the extra mile and included a generous donation towards its future upkeep.
  • I was so proud of my kids for going the extra mile when they volunteered at the local animal shelter.
  • It wasn’t going the extra mile to ensure only the best quality materials were released for sale, at least not in my opinion.
  • She made the team because she went the extra mile and put in long hours each day to train after school.

What Is the Origin of Go the Extra Mile Meaning?

The idiom go the extra mile is derived from the New Testament. In the book of Matthew, chapter five, verse forty-one, Jesus says, “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” Under Roman law, a soldier passing a Jew could press him into service to carry his pack a mile. Jesus stated one should carry it for two as both a form of defiance against the Roman law, as well as to turn the other cheek.

The verse is taken from the Sermon on the Mount and is an exhortation to bear one’s burden cheerfully and with generosity toward others. Today, to say that someone will go the extra mile is a compliment, acknowledging when someone puts forth more effort than is expected.

Let’s Review

Going the extra mile means doing more than expected or giving added effort towards something you want to accomplish. It is a variation of a much older term recorded from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, stating that one should walk the extra mile if consigned to carry a Roman soldier’s equipment the prescribed mile.

Want to have more idioms in your arsenal? Check out some others we covered: