a run for one's money,
    1. close or keen competition: The out-of-town team gave us a run for our money.
    2. enjoyment or profit in return for one's expense: This may not be the best tool kit, but it will give you a run for your money.
    in the long run, in the course of long experience; in the end: Retribution will come, in the long run.
    in the short run, as an immediate or temporary outcome: Recession may be averted in the short run if policy changes are made now.
    on the run,
    1. moving quickly; hurrying about: He's so busy, he's always on the run.
    2. while running or in a hurry: I usually eat breakfast on the run.
    3. escaping or hiding from the police: He was on the run for two years.
    run afoul of,
    1. collide with so as to cause damage and entanglement.
    2. to incur or become subject to the wrath or ill will of: to run afoul of the law; He argued with his father and has run afoul of him ever since.
    run for it, to hurry away or flee, especially to evade something: You had better run for it before anyone else arrives.
    run in place,
    1. to go through the motions of running without leaving one's original place.
    2. to exist or work without noticeable change, progress, or improvement.
    run out of gas, Informal.
    1. to exhaust or lose one's energy, enthusiasm, etc.: After the first game of tennis, I ran out of gas and had to rest.
    2. to falter for lack of impetus, ideas, capital, etc.: The economic recovery seems to be running out of gas.
    run scared, to be thrown into a state of fear or uncertainty because of a perceived threat; be apprehensive about survival or the future: Many businesses are running scared because of increasing competition.

Origin of run

before 900; (v.) Middle English rinnen, rennen, partly < Old Norse rinna, renna, partly continuing Old English rinnan; cognate with German rinnen; form run orig. past participle, later extended to present tense; (noun and adj.) derivative of the v.
Related formsrun·na·ble, adjectiverun·na·bil·i·ty, nounin·ter·run, verb (used with object), in·ter·ran, in·ter·run, in·ter·run·ning.non·run, adjectiveun·run, adjectivewell-run, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for a run for one's money


verb runs, running, ran or run

  1. (of a two-legged creature) to move on foot at a rapid pace so that both feet are off the ground together for part of each stride
  2. (of a four-legged creature) to move at a rapid gait; gallop or canter
(tr) to pass over (a distance, route, etc) in runningto run a mile; run a race
(intr) to run in or finish a race as specified, esp in a particular positionJohn is running third
(tr) to perform or accomplish by or as if by runningto run an errand
(intr) to flee; run awaythey took to their heels and ran
(tr) to bring into a specified state or condition by runningto run oneself to a standstill
(tr) to track down or hunt (an animal)to run a fox to earth
(intr) to move about freely and without restraintthe children are running in the garden
(intr usually foll by to) to go or have recourse, as for aid, assistance, etche's always running to his mother when he's in trouble
(tr) to set (animals) loose on (a field or tract of land) so as to graze freely
(intr ; often foll by over, round or up) to make a short trip or brief informal visitI'll run over to your house this afternoon
to move quickly and easily on wheels by rolling, or in any of certain other waysa ball running along the ground; a sledge running over snow
to move or cause to move with a specified result or in a specified mannerto run a ship aground; to run into a tree
(often foll by over) to move or pass or cause to move or pass quicklyto run a vacuum cleaner over the carpet; to run one's eyes over a page
(tr ; foll by into, out of, through, etc) to force, thrust, or driveshe ran a needle into her finger
(tr) to drive or maintain and operate (a vehicle)
(tr) to give a lift to (someone) in a vehicle; transporthe ran her to the railway station
to ply or cause to ply between places on a routethe bus runs from Piccadilly to Golders Green
to operate or be operated; function or cause to functionthe engine is running smoothly
(tr) to perform or carry outto run tests
(tr) to be in charge of; manageto run a company
to extend or continue or cause to extend or continue in a particular direction, for a particular duration or distance, etcthe road runs north; the play ran for two years; the months ran into years
(intr) law
  1. to have legal force or effectthe lease runs for two more years
  2. to accompany; be an integral part of or adjunct toan easement runs with the land
(tr) to be subjected to, be affected by, or incurto run a risk; run a temperature
(intr often foll by to) to be characterized (by); tend or inclineher taste runs to extravagant hats; to run to fat
(intr) to recur persistently or be inherentred hair runs in my family
to cause or allow (liquids) to flow or (of liquids) to flow, esp in a manner specifiedwater ran from the broken pipe; the well has run dry
(intr) to melt and flowthe wax grew hot and began to run
  1. to melt or fuse
  2. (tr)to mould or cast (molten metal)to run lead into ingots
(intr) (of waves, tides, rivers, etc) to rise high, surge, or be at a specified heighta high sea was running that night
(intr) to be diffusedthe colours in my dress ran when I washed it
(intr) (of stitches) to unravel or come undone or (of a garment) to have stitches unravel or come undoneif you pull that thread the whole seam will run
to sew (an article) with continuous stitches
(intr) (of growing vines, creepers, etc) to trail, spread, or climbivy running over a cottage wall
(intr) to spread or circulate quicklya rumour ran through the town
(intr) to be stated or reportedhis story runs as follows
to publish or print or be published or printed in a newspaper, magazine, etcthey ran his story in the next issue
(often foll by for) mainly US and Canadian to be a candidate or present as a candidate for political or other officeAnderson is running for president
(tr) to get past or through; evadeto run a blockade
(tr) to deal in (arms, etc), esp by importing illegallyhe runs guns for the rebels
nautical to sail (a vessel, esp a sailing vessel) or (of such a vessel) to be sailed with the wind coming from astern
(intr) (of fish)
  1. to migrate upstream from the sea, esp in order to spawn
  2. to swim rapidly in any area of water, esp during migration
(tr) cricket to score (a run or number of runs) by hitting the ball and running between the wickets
(tr) billiards snooker to make (a number of successful shots) in sequence
(tr) golf to hit (the ball) so that it rolls along the ground
(tr) bridge to cash (all one's winning cards in a long suit) successively
run a bath to turn on the taps to fill a bath with water for bathing oneself
run close to compete closely with; present a serious challenge tohe got the job, but a younger man ran him close
run for it informal to attempt to escape from arrest, etc, by running
be run off one's feet to be extremely busy


an act, instance, or period of running
a gait, pace, or motion faster than a walkshe went off at a run
a distance covered by running or a period of runninga run of ten miles
an act, instance, or period of travelling in a vehicle, esp for pleasureto go for a run in the car
free and unrestricted accesswe had the run of the house and garden for the whole summer
  1. a period of time during which a machine, computer, etc, operates
  2. the amount of work performed in such a period
a continuous or sustained perioda run of good luck
a continuous sequence of performancesthe play had a good run
cards a sequence of winning cards in one suit, usually more than fivea run of spades
tendency or trendthe run of the market
type, class, or categorythe usual run of graduates
(usually foll by on) a continuous and urgent demanda run on butter; a run on the dollar
a series of unravelled stitches, esp in stockings or tights; ladder
the characteristic pattern or direction of somethingthe run of the grain on a piece of wood
  1. a continuous vein or seam of ore, coal, etc
  2. the direction in which it lies
  1. a period during which water or other liquid flows
  2. the amount of such a flow
a pipe, channel, etc, through which water or other liquid flows
US a small stream
a steeply inclined pathway or course, esp a snow-covered one used for skiing and bobsleigh racingSee also green run, blue run, red run, black run
an enclosure for domestic fowls or other animals, in which they have free movementa chicken run
(esp in Australia and New Zealand) a tract of land for grazing livestock
a track or area frequented by animalsa deer run; a rabbit run
a group of animals of the same species moving together
the migration of fish upstream in order to spawn
  1. the tack of a sailing vessel in which the wind comes from astern
  2. part of the hull of a vessel near the stern where it curves upwards and inwards
  1. a mission in a warplane
  2. short for bombing run
the movement of an aircraft along the ground during takeoff or landing
music a rapid scalelike passage of notes
cricket a score of one, normally achieved by both batsmen running from one end of the wicket to the other after one of them has hit the ballCompare extra (def. 6), boundary (def. 2c)
baseball an instance of a batter touching all four bases safely, thereby scoring
golf the distance that a ball rolls after hitting the ground
a run for one's money informal
  1. a strong challenge or close competition
  2. pleasure derived from an activity
in the long run as the eventual outcome of a sequence of events, actions, etc; ultimately
in the short run as the immediate outcome of a series of events, etc
on the run
  1. escaping from arrest; fugitive
  2. in rapid flight; retreatingthe enemy is on the run
  3. hurrying from place to placeshe's always on the run
the runs slang diarrhoea

Word Origin for run

Old English runnen, past participle of (ge) rinnan; related to Old Frisian, Old Norse rinna, Old Saxon, Gothic, Old High German rinnan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for a run for one's money



the modern verb is a merger of two related Old English words, in both of which the first letters sometimes switched places. The first is intransitive rinnan, irnan "to run, flow, run together" (past tense ran, past participle runnen), cognate with (cf. Middle Dutch runnen, Old Saxon, Old High German, Gothic rinnan, German rinnen "to flow, run").

The second is Old English transitive weak verb ærnan, earnan "ride, run to, reach, gain by running" (probably a metathesis of *rennan), from Proto-Germanic *rannjanan, causative of the root *ren- "to run." This is cognate with Old Saxon renian, Old High German rennen, German rennen, Gothic rannjan.

Both are from PIE *ri-ne-a-, nasalized form of root *reie- "to flow, run" (see Rhine).

Of streams, etc., from c.1200; of machinery, from 1560s. Meaning "be in charge of" is first attested 1861, originally American English. Meaning "seek office in an election" is from 1826, American English. Phrase run for it "take flight" is attested from 1640s. Many figurative uses are from horseracing or hunting (e.g. to run (something) into the ground, 1836, American English).

To run across "meet" is attested from 1855, American English. To run short "exhaust one's supply" is from 1752; to run out of in the same sense is from 1713. To run around with "consort with" is from 1887. Run away "flee in the face of danger" is from late 14c. To run late is from 1954.



"a spell of running," mid-15c. (earlier ren, late 14c.), from run (v.). The Old English noun ryne meant "a flowing, a course, a watercourse." Modern sense of "small stream" first recorded 1580s, mostly Northern English dialect and American English.

Meaning "continuous stretch" (of something) is from 1670s. Meaning "series or rush of demands on a bank, etc." is first recorded 1690s. Meaning "the privilege of going through or over" is from 1755. Baseball sense is from 1856. Meaning "single trip by a railroad train" is from 1857. Military aircraft sense is from 1916. Meaning "total number of copies printed" is from 1909. Meaning "tear in a knitted garment" is from 1922. Phrase a run for one's money is from 1872 in a figurative sense, originally from horse racing, implying competition (1841).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with a run for one's money


In addition to the idioms beginning with run

  • run across
  • run a fever
  • run afoul of
  • run after
  • run against
  • run along
  • run amok
  • run an errand
  • run a risk
  • run around
  • run around in circles
  • run around like a chicken
  • run around with
  • run a temperature
  • run a tight ship
  • run away
  • run away with
  • run by someone
  • run circles around
  • run counter to
  • run down
  • run dry
  • run for it
  • run for one's money, a
  • run foul
  • run high
  • run in
  • run in place
  • run interference
  • run in the blood
  • run into
  • run into a stone wall
  • run into the ground
  • run its course
  • run like clockwork
  • running on empty
  • running start
  • run off
  • run off at the mouth
  • run off with
  • run of luck
  • run of the mill
  • run on
  • run one ragged
  • run one's eyes over
  • run one's head against the wall
  • run one's own show
  • run out
  • run out of
  • run out on
  • run over
  • run rings around
  • run riot
  • run scared
  • run short
  • run someone in
  • run someone off his or her feet
  • run the gamut
  • run the gauntlet
  • run the show
  • run through
  • run to
  • run to earth
  • run to form
  • run to seed
  • run up
  • run wild
  • run with

also see:

  • beat (run) one's head against the wall
  • cut and run
  • dry run
  • eat and run
  • end run
  • go (run) around in circles
  • great minds (run in the same channel)
  • home run
  • in the long run
  • like clockwork, run
  • make a break (run) for
  • make one's blood run cold
  • (run) off someone's feet
  • on the run
  • still waters run deep
  • tight ship, run a
  • well's run dry

Also see underrunning.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.