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in the long run

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Over a lengthy period of time, in the end. For example, He realized that in the long run, their argument wouldn't seem so awful. This expression, which originated as at the long run in the early 1600s, presumably alludes to a runner who continues on his course to the end. Economist John Maynard Keynes used it in a much-quoted quip about economic planning: “In the long run we are all dead.” The antonym, in the short run, meaning “over a short period of time,” dates only from the 1800s. The novelist George Eliot used both in a letter (October 18, 1879): “Mrs. Healy's marriage is surely what you expected in the long or short run.”

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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.

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