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Step up to the plate

  • Step up to the plate is an idiom that originated in America. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, 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. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as face the music, jump the gun, let the cat out of the bag, hit the sack, Achilles heel, barking up the wrong tree, once in a blue moon, a dime a dozen, drop in the bucket, bite the dust, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the expression step up to the plate, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    The phrase step up to the plate means to take responsibility for something, to rise to the occasion, to accept a challenge. Usually, the connotation is of someone taking on a responsibility or challenge in an admirable way because it was not expected of them or because the situation affects many people. The idiom step up to the plate is derived from the American sport of baseball. Home plate is the beginning position in baseball, designated by a flat marker known as home plate. The batter literally steps up to the plate in a designated area in order to swing at the pitched ball. The phrase step up to the plate is still used literally to describe a baseball batter taking the batting position. The expression step up to the plate took on a figurative meaning sometime around the turn of the twentieth century. Related phrases are steps up to the plate, stepped up to the plate, stepping up to the plate. Step up to the plate is one of many idioms that have been derived from sports, including the home stretch, the ball is in your court, Monday morning quarterback, level playing field, and throw in the towel.

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    Examples

    One, it builds trust among a team and a willingness for others to step up to the plate when called upon. (Forbes Magazine)

    With presenters from local organizations, companies and individuals from all over the Central Valley, the purpose of the event was to get students to participate in a variety of activities to inspire them to “step up to the plate,” whether that means finding their true passion, empowering themselves to protect the environment, to help others, or to go to college. (The Porterville Recorder)

    The players were versatile and coachable enough to adopt any style of play needed on a given week, and on Sunday, they stepped up to the plate by perfectly executing a masterful gameplan from coach Bill Belichick and defensive playcaller Brian Flores. (The Gloucester Daily Times)

    As busy families eat out more frequently than generations past, they are demanding healthier and more interesting meal options for kids — and restaurants are increasingly stepping up to the plate. (The Chicago Tribune)


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