One for the books

One for the books is an American idiom.  An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common one for the books, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

One for the books describes something that is historic, memorable, or remarkable. Something that is one for the books does not occur very often and has surpassed other, similar efforts or achievements. For instance, an election that attracts more voters than have ever voted before is an election that is one for the books. A man who is seven feet tall is one for the books. The expression one for the books came from the sports world; the original idiom, still sometimes seen, is one for the record books, though this version is usually meant fairly literally. The image is one of adding information in a book of statistical records. The term one for the books came into common use around 1930.


I’ve slipped in the bathtub and my most recent experience was one for the books. (Canton Daily Ledger)

Held in a new location with new youth-leadership programming and the exciting Nexus™ innovation stage, the 2021 event will be one for the books. (Wisconsin State Farmer)

The 2020-21 Tallulah Falls boys basketball team’s season was one for the record books. (Northeast Georgian)

Leave a Comment