Raise the bar

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Raise the bar is an idiom that arose around the turn of the twentieth century. We will examine the meaning of the idiom raise the bar, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Raise the bar means to set a high standard, to raise expectations, to set higher goals. The expression is often used in a situation where someone’s performance surpasses the performances of others by far. The idiom raise the bar came into use around 1900 and comes from the sport of track and field. The high jump event and the pole vault event both involve raising a crossbar incrementally to see how high the participants can jump or pole vault. Related phrases are raises the bar, raised, the bar, raising the bar.


“I think this will attract more old-timers, raise the bar and make it more competitive.” (The Jackson Hole News & Guide)

The toy company behind Barbie and Hot Wheels hopes to raise the bar for inclusion with a line of gender-neutral dolls. (The Huffington Post)

“Diamond-selling, multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning rap superstar, entrepreneur, philanthropist and actor, Nelly, has continually raised the bar for the entertainment industry since stepping on the scene in 2000 with his distinctive vocals and larger-than-life personality,” the release said. (The Herald News)

But other husbands in the area are now feeling the pressure to do something spectacular for their wives as well — and they have no problem “thanking” Wilson for raising the bar. (People Magazine)