steal someone's thunder


To upstage someone; to destroy the effect of what someone does or says by doing or saying the same thing first: “The Republicans stole the Democrats' thunder by including the most popular provisions of the Democratic proposal in their own bill.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with steal someone's thunder

steal someone's thunder

Use or appropriate another's idea, especially to one's advantage, as in It was Harold's idea but they stole his thunder and turned it into a massive advertising campaign without giving him credit. This idiom comes from an actual incident in which playwright and critic John Dennis (1657–1734) devised a “thunder machine” (by rattling a sheet of tin backstage) for his play, Appius and Virginia (1709), and a few days later discovered the same device being used in a performance of Macbeth, whereupon he declared, “They steal my thunder.”

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