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bigger they come, the harder they fall, the

Persons in important positions lose more when they fail, as in Impeaching a President is very painful—the bigger they come, the harder they fall. This expression is believed to come from boxing and gained currency when boxer Robert Fitzsimmons used it in a 1902 newspaper interview before fighting the much heavier James J. Jeffries. It was probably derived from similar adages, such as “The bigger the tree, the harder she falls.”

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