See more synonyms for show on
verb (used with object), showed, shown or showed, show·ing.
  1. to cause or allow to be seen; exhibit; display.
  2. to present or perform as a public entertainment or spectacle: to show a movie.
  3. to indicate; point out: to show the way.
  4. to guide, escort, or usher: He showed me to my room. Show her in.
  5. to explain or make clear; make known: He showed what he meant.
  6. to make known to; inform, instruct, or prove to: I'll show you what I mean.
  7. to prove; demonstrate: His experiment showed the falsity of the theory.
  8. to indicate, register, or mark: The thermometer showed 10 below zero.
  9. to exhibit or offer for sale: to show a house.
  10. to allege, as in a legal document; plead, as a reason or cause.
  11. to produce, as facts in an affidavit or at a hearing.
  12. to express or make evident by appearance, behavior, speech, etc.: to show one's feelings.
  13. to accord or grant (favor, kindness, etc.): He showed mercy in his decision.
verb (used without object), showed, shown or showed, show·ing.
  1. to be seen; be or become visible: Does my slip show?
  2. to be seen in a certain way: to show to advantage.
  3. to put on an exhibition or performance; display one's goods or products: Several dress designers are showing in New York now.
  4. Informal. to be present or keep an appointment; show up: He said he would be there, but he didn't show.
  5. to finish third in a horse race, harness race, etc.
  1. a theatrical production, performance, or company.
  2. a radio or television program.
  3. a motion picture.
  4. an exposition for dealers or the public of products by various manufacturers in a particular industry, usually held in an exhibition hall, convention facility, or the like: the annual boat show.
  5. any kind of public exhibition or exposition: a show of Renoirs.
  6. ostentatious display: nothing but mere show.
  7. a display, exhibition, or demonstration: a true show of freedom.
  8. an indication; trace: He frowned on the slightest show of emotion.
  9. the position of the competitor who comes in third in a horse race, harness race, etc.Compare place(def 27b), win1(def 17).
  10. appearance; impression: to make a sorry show.
  11. a sight or spectacle.
  12. an unreal or deceptive appearance: The actress's tears had the show of grief.
  13. an act or instance of showing.
  14. a motion-picture theater.
  15. Informal. a chance: to get a fair show.
  16. Medicine/Medical.
    1. the first appearance of blood at the onset of menstruation.
    2. a blood-tinged mucous discharge from the vagina that indicates the onset of labor.
  17. Chiefly British Informal. any undertaking, group of persons, event, etc.; affair; thing.
Verb Phrases
  1. show off,
    1. to display ostentatiously: The parade was designed to show off all the latest weapons of war.
    2. to seek to gain attention by displaying prominently one's abilities or accomplishments.
  2. show up,
    1. to make known, as faults; expose; reveal.
    2. to exhibit in a certain way; appear: White shows up well against a blue background.
    3. to come to or arrive at a place: We waited for two hours, but he didn't show up.
    4. to make (another) seem inferior; outdo.
  1. make a show of, to be ostentatious about; affect: Whenever there are visitors, the bosses make a show of being nice to their employees.
  2. run the show, to control a business, situation, etc.; be in charge: My father runs the show in our house.
  3. steal the show,
    1. to usurp the credit or get the applause for something: That woman can act, but the child stole the show. He did all the work, but his partner stole the show.
    2. to be the most pleasing or spectacular item or person in a group.
  4. stop the show, to win such enthusiastic applause that a theatrical performance is temporarily interrupted.

Origin of show

before 900; (v.) Middle English showen, s(c)hewen to look at, show, Old English scēawian to look at; cognate with Dutch schowen, German schauen; (noun) Middle English s(c)hew(e), derivative of the v.
Related formsshow·a·ble, adjectiveshow·less, adjectiveout·show, verb (used with object), out·showed, out·shown or out·showed, out·show·ing.pre·show, adjective, noun, verb (used with object), pre·showed, pre·shown or pre·showed, pre·show··show, verb, re·showed, re·shown or re·showed, re·show··per·show, nounun·show·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for show

See more synonyms for on

Synonym study

24, 25. Show, display, ostentation, pomp suggest the presentation of a more or less elaborate, often pretentious, appearance for the public to see. Show often indicates an external appearance that may or may not accord with actual facts: a show of modesty. Display applies to an intentionally conspicuous show: a great display of wealth. Ostentation is vain, ambitious, pretentious, or offensive display: tasteless and vulgar ostentation. Pomp suggests such a show of dignity and authority as characterizes a ceremony of state: The coronation was carried out with pomp and ceremonial. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for run the show


verb shows, showing, showed, shown or showed
  1. to make, be, or become visible or noticeableto show one's dislike
  2. (tr) to present to view; exhibithe showed me a picture
  3. (tr) to indicate or explain; proveto show that the earth moves round the sun
  4. (tr) to exhibit or present (oneself or itself) in a specific characterto show oneself to be trustworthy
  5. (tr; foll by how and an infinitive) to instruct by demonstrationshow me how to swim
  6. (tr) to indicate or registera barometer shows changes in the weather
  7. (tr) to grant or bestowto show favour to someone
  8. (intr) to appearto show to advantage
  9. to exhibit, display, or offer (goods, etc) for salethree artists were showing at the gallery
  10. (tr) to allege, as in a legal documentto show cause
  11. to present (a play, film, etc) or (of a play, etc) to be presented, as at a theatre or cinema
  12. (tr) to guide or escortplease show me to my room
  13. show in to conduct a person into a room or building by opening the door for him
  14. show out to conduct a person out of a room or building by opening the door for him
  15. (intr) to win a place in a horse race, etc
  16. to give a performance of riding and handling (a horse) to display its best points
  17. (intr) informal to put in an appearance; arrive
  1. a display or exhibition
  2. a public spectacle
  3. an ostentatious or pretentious display
  4. a theatrical or other entertainment
  5. a trace or indication
  6. obstetrics a discharge of blood at the onset of labour
  7. US, Australian and NZ informal a chance; opportunity (esp in the phrases give someone a show, he's got no show of winning, etc)
  8. a sporting event consisting of contests in which riders perform different exercises to show their skill and their horses' ability and breeding
  9. slang, mainly British a thing or affair (esp in the phrases good show, bad show, etc)
  10. Australian and NZ mining a slight indication of the presence of gold
  11. a display of farm animals, with associated competitions
  12. for show in order to attract attention
  13. run the show informal to take charge of or manage an affair, business, etc
  14. steal the show to draw the most attention or admiration, esp unexpectedly
  15. stop the show informal
    1. (of a stage act, etc) to receive so much applause as to interrupt the performance
    2. to be received with great enthusiasm
See also show off, show up

Word Origin for show

Old English scēawian; related to Old High German scouwōn to look, Old Norse örskār careful, Greek thuoskoos seer
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 run the show



Old English sceawian "to look at, see, gaze, behold, observe; inspect, examine; look for, choose," from West Germanic *skauwojan (cf. Old Saxon skauwon "to look at," Old Frisian skawia, Dutch schouwen, Old High German scouwon "to look at;" Dutch schoon, Gothic skaunjai "beautiful," originally "conspicuous"), from Proto-Germanic root *skau- "behold, look at," from PIE *skou-, variant of root *skeue- "to pay attention, perceive" (see caveat).

Causal meaning "let be seen; put in sight, make known" evolved c.1200 for unknown reasons and is unique to English (German schauen still means "look at"). Spelling shew, popular 18c. and surviving into early 19c., represents obsolete pronunciation (rhymes with view). Horse racing sense is from 1903, perhaps from an earlier sense in card-playing.



c.1300, "act of exhibiting to view," from show (v.). Sense of "appearance put on with intention to deceive" is recorded from 1520s. Meaning "display, spectacle" is first recorded 1560s; that of "ostentatious display" is from 1713 (showy is from 1712). Sense of "entertainment program on radio or TV" is first recorded 1932. Meaning "third place in a horse race" is from 1925, American English (see the verb).

Show of hands is attested from 1789; Phrase for show "for appearance's sake" is from c.1700. Show business is attested from 1850; shortened form show biz used in "Billboard" from 1942. Actor's creed the show must go on is attested from 1890. Show-stopper is from 1926; show trial first recorded 1937.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

run the show in Medicine


  1. The first discharge of blood in menstruation.
  2. The discharge of bloody mucus from the vagina indicating the start of labor.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with run the show

run the show

Take charge, assume control, as in Ever since Bill retired from the business, his daughter's been running the show. The word show here simply means “kind of undertaking.” [First half of 1900s] A similar usage is run one's own show, meaning “exert control over one's own activities” or “act independently.” For example, The high school drama club didn't ask permission to perform that play—they want to run their own show. [Mid-1900s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with show

  • show and tell
  • show must go on, the
  • show off
  • show of hands
  • show one's colors
  • show one's face
  • show one's hand
  • show one's heels
  • show one's teeth
  • show one's true colors
  • show signs of
  • show someone the door
  • show someone the ropes
  • show someone a good time
  • show someone out
  • show the way
  • show the white feather
  • show to advantage
  • show up

also see:

  • bare (show) one's teeth
  • dog-and-pony show
  • false colors, show
  • for show
  • get the show on the road
  • go to show
  • know (show) the ropes
  • one-man show
  • road show
  • run the show
  • steal the show
  • (show one's) true colors
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.