Swing for the fences

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Swing for the fences is an American idiom that has been in use since the twentieth century. We will examine the meaning of the idiom swing for the fences, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To swing for the fences means to put one’s full effort into an endeavor with the intention of achieving in an overwhelming manner. The idiom swing for the fences comes from American baseball. In baseball, the fences being discussed in this phrase are the boundaries of the playable field. If a ball is hit over these fences, it is a home run and the runner scores with no opposition from the fielding team. If one hits a home run he scores without any dispute, but hitting a home run is difficult. Therefore, the idiom swing for the fences often carries the connotation of trying to obtain something that is too difficult to obtain and has a high rate of failure. Other times, the idiom swing for the fences is used as an encouragement to set high goals. The phrase swing for the fences came into use in the twentieth century, related phrases are swings for the fences, swung for the fences, swinging for the fences.


With a work ethic that her husband Peter Hermann marvels at (“Every day you go in and swing for the fences,” he says), Hargitay has no intention of slowing down. (People Magazine)

The Amazon CEO referenced the metaphor that if you swing for the fences in baseball, you’re going to hit some home runs—but you’ll also strike out a lot. (Fortune Magazine)

One is a politician hitting consistent singles and doubles, and the other is willing to swing for the fences, striving for that into-the-water homer — even when their bat meets nothing but air. (The San Francisco Examiner)