No Guts, No Glory – Meaning and Origin

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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.

No guts, no glory means that without risk and courage, one cannot achieve success. For instance, when I was applying for a new position, the process filled me with anxiety. Yet, I reminded myself of the adage “No guts, no glory,” understanding that without making an attempt, there would be zero probability of securing the job.

An idiom, like no guts, no glory, is a figurative expression that conveys a metaphorical meaning distinct from its literal interpretation. Idioms add further description and are popularly used within informal speech. Learning how to use them can help you better understand and master the English language.

No guts, no glory has a relatively recent origin and can be traced back to military contexts. Keep reading to fully understand the meaning of this phrase, its origins, and how to use it through sentence examples.

No Guts, No Glory Meaning

No Guts No Glory – Meaning and Origin

The idiom no guts, no glory means that gaining success necessitates taking risks. In this context, guts embodies bravery, courage, or initiative, while glory stands for success or honor.

Its use emphasizes the notion that without stepping out of one’s comfort zone or facing challenges head-on, it is unlikely to achieve significant or noteworthy results.

Is It No Guts, No Glory or No Guts No Glory?

The phrase no guts, no glory always includes a comma when used as an independent clause or a standalone statement. The comma is required to separate the parallel elements of the phrase for clarity.

This comma effectively differentiates no guts from no glory, denoting them as distinct ideas interconnected in a cause-and-effect relationship. This can be illustrated in the sentence:

  • She took a leap of faith, knowing that no guts, no glory.

Synonyms for No Guts, No Glory

  • No risk, no reward
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained
  • No courage, no triumph
  • No bravery, no success
  • No boldness, no victory
  • No fortitude, no achievement

Using No Guts, No Glory in Sentences

No Guts No Glory – Meaning and Origin 2

  • “No guts, no glory,” he repeated to himself as he pushed past his fears and embraced the unknown.
  • The team faced a crucial moment in the game, trailing by a single point, when the coach gathered them together and reminded them of their shared mantra: no guts, no glory.
  • With a deep breath, she reminded herself, “No guts, no glory,” and plunged into the exhilarating abyss, overcoming her fears and embracing the thrill of the unknown.
  • Despite the risks involved, he decided to invest in the startup, guided by the principle of “No guts, no glory.”
  • When she decided to pursue her dreams against all odds, her motto was “No guts, no glory.”
  • He quit his comfortable job to start his own business, echoing the sentiment, “No guts, no glory.”
  • “No guts, no glory,” she reminded herself before stepping onto the stage to give her first public speech.

No Guts, No Glory Origin

No Guts No Glory Ngram
No guts no glory usage trend.

The expression no guts, no glory can be traced to one man: American Air Force Major General Frederick Corbin Blesse, who wrote a manual about air-to-air combat in 1955 that he entitled, No Guts, No Glory. The manual is still considered a primer on air combat.

Major General Blesse was a highly decorated fighter pilot who completed two combat tours during the Korean War and another two in Vietnam. He was also part of the Air Training Command Team and was considered one of the most skilled active pilots before he retired from the Air Force in 1975.

Let’s Review

The phrase no guts, no glory emphasizes the idea that one must be willing to take risks, show courage, or push beyond their limits to achieve exceptional results. It suggests that success or achievement requires the willingness to face challenges and persevere in the face of adversity.

Its simple origin can be traced back to one highly decorated and respected Air Force pilot who used the expression and wrote a training manual by its name. Today, it is a highly quoted idiom that is used to embrace the ability we all have within us to persevere with hard work.