Keeping up with the Joneses

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Keeping up with the Joneses is an American phrase that dates back to the early 1900s. We will examine the meaning of the term keeping up with the Joneses, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Keeping up with the Joneses means to strive to emulate the success of one’s peers, to show that one is as wealthy or as accomplished as one’s neighbors or peers. In this case, Joneses is the plural form of the surname Jones, and is meant to signify a generic family of neighbors. At one time the most common surname in the United States, Jones is currently the fifth most common surname in the United States. The term keeping up with the Joneses comes from a comic strip that was first published in 1913, entitled Keep Up With The Joneses, written and drawn by Pop Momand. It satirized the American trait of competition in achieving material success. Related terms are keep up with the Joneses, kept up with the Joneses. Note that the word Joneses is capitalized, as it is a proper name.


Keeping up with the Joneses is a powerful emotion, in both purchasing autos and portfolio performance. (The Montgomery Advertiser)

The core processing platform remains the nerve center of today’s credit union, and keeping up with the Joneses often requires converting to a new system. (The Credit Union Times)

It hurled those optimists into the pessimistic ’70s, when they felt the unrequited “Jonesing” quality of comparing themselves to others, or “keeping up with the Joneses.” (The Upstate Business Journal)

So many people in the world live with far less than what we had, and that knowledge helped us avoid the trap of keeping up with the Joneses.” (The Business Insider)

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