Grandstanding is an idiom that came into use in the 1800s. 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. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as beat around the bush, cut the mustard, let the cat out of the bag, hit the sack, ankle biter, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, under the weather, piece of cake, 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 phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom grandstanding, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Grandstanding is playing to the crowd to garner approval, showing off for a crowd unnecessarily to impress them. The term grandstanding comes from the older term, grandstand play. In a sporting event, a grandstand play is one that involves theatrics that are not really necessary. The grandstand is the area of seats in a sporting arena that is covered, shielding the higher-paying spectators from the weather. The term grandstanding came into use as a slang term used by American college baseball players in the 1890s. Today, grandstanding is often used to describe politicians or political pundits. Grandstand is a compound word, which is a word derived from two separate words used together to create another word. A compound is a new word that has a different meaning than the definitions of the original words. New compound words usually consist of two, separate words, and are called open compound words. Midway through their evolution, compound words may acquire hyphens between the two words. When a compound becomes a closed compound word, which consists of two words joined without any hyphen or space, it has usually been in use for a long time. Grandstanding is a gerund, related words are the verbs grandstand, grandstands, grandstanded, and the word grandstander.


Depending on whom you ask, it’s either a gubernatorial study-abroad trip, a humanitarian and diplomatic mission befitting the state’s status as the world’s fifth-biggest economy, or pure grandstanding on a global scale. (The Desert Sun)

There is no necessity for any of this; it is pure political grandstanding, on both sides. (The National Post)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered a harsh rebuke of hardline Republican members of Congress who he accused of “grandstanding” on the issue of Iran as they seek to push the State Department to end a series of sanctions waivers packages that have permitted Iran to engage in sensitive nuclear work and continue its lucrative oil trade. (The WAshington Free Beacon)

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