A to Z Idioms 28 | To steal someone’s thunder

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In this episode of The A to Z English Podcast, Jack explains the meaning of the idiom “to steal someone’s thunder.”

“To steal someone’s thunder.”

This idiom means to take the credit for something that someone else has done or to overshadow someone’s achievements or success by doing something similar, but usually more attention-grabbing or significant.

For example, if someone worked hard on a project and was about to present their findings, but then a colleague presented a similar project just before them, getting all the attention and credit, you could say the colleague “stole their thunder.”

This idiom has a theatrical origin. It is attributed to playwright John Dennis, who invented a machine to create the sound of thunder for his plays. When his invention was not successful, another playwright, Richard Steele, used a similar machine in one of his productions to great success, essentially stealing Dennis’s thunder.

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