My way or the highway

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My way or the highway is an idiom that originated in the United States in the 1960s. We will examine the meaning of the idiom my way or the highway, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

My way or the highway is an admonishment to do things the way that I tell you to do them, or do not participate. My way or the highway is an ultimatum that means fulfill my requirements or do not participate. The image is of one either conforming to expectations or driving away down the highway. My way or the highway is an idiom that is used when the listener does not have any option or recourse. For instance, a boss who insists that a job must be executed in a certain manner might use the idiom my way or the highway. His employee know that this means either do the job in the manner that the boss expects him to, or quit. The earliest known users of the idiom my way or the highway are American football coaches, such as Vince Lombardi and Bill Parcells.


Keyes said she was concerned about the “my way or the highway approach” administration is taking while working with teachers and support staff. (The Beloit Daily News)

Revisiting them could lead us away from the current gridlock that comes from the prevalent “my way or the highway” approach to governing. (The La Porte County Herald-Argus)

“But you cannot come to a conclusion if the president of the United States says ‘My way or the highway, there’s nothing to negotiate and, by the way, I am willing to hold the American, our federal workers hostage to my view,’” she said. (The Washington Post)