Being competitive is natural to us, and, as a result, so is making comparisons of skill levels and performance levels. We have a number of expressions in English that allow us to do just this. This week, let me ‘clue you in’ on one such expression.
Run circles around someone
1. “The Brazilian team is so good this year, they can run circles around any opposition!”
2. “Winning a couple of games of chess doesn’t make you a champion. Try playing a game online. There are plenty of chess geniuses out there who will run circles around you any day.”
3. “In the beginning everyone thought this would be a close election, but now we can see that the new party is simply running circles around its opposition.”
Another variation of the idiom is ‘running rings around someone.’ So you can say: “When it comes to tennis, I can run rings around you any day!”
Meanings and usage
The expression is inspired by the context of racing. In a race, everyone looks to reach from point A to point B, following a fixed path, as quickly as possible. However, the idiom suggests, someone who is much better can run not just straight, but even run circles around the competitors, and still keep up with everyone.
‘Running circles around’ someone refers to being outrunning them, or performing far better than them. And this is the key part: this idiom refers not just to doing better, but to outperforming by a wide margin. The felicity, the ease with which you outdo others is an important aspect of this expression.
1. Try and get into some competitive comparisons with your friends, and see if there is an area—a skill or a domain of knowledge—where you can run circles around a friend of yours.
2. Identify the top performers that you like—athletes, writers, musicians, actors, or politicians—and describe, in a sentence each, what makes them so much better than others. Use the expression ‘run circles around’ in all the sentences as far as possible.
1. “You think you know who I am? You clearly don’t know who you are talking to, so let me clue you in…”
2. “Why is everyone in office all excited and rushing about? What is going on? Can someone please clue me in right now?”
3. “I was lost in the history class since I missed a few weeks at the beginning of the semester, but thanks to your class notes which I read this weekend, so now I’m all clued in!”
4. “Sorry I’m a bit late to the meeting. Can someone clue me in on what’s been discussed so far?”
There are many useful expressions inspired by the word ‘clue.’ We can also talk about ‘being clueless’ or ‘not having a clue’, but these are separate idioms on their own, so we’ll tackle them some other day independently.
Meanings and usage
When you clue someone in on something, you give them some information. The expression can be used to ask for more information, to offer information, and to indicate that one does not have all the latest and relevant information. The examples above use the idiom in these various ways.A small variation of this expression also allows you to describe people as being ‘clued in.’ When someone is ‘clued in,’ they are up to date in terms of news and facts regarding a particular topic. You might say, for example: “Back in college, I was pretty clued in on the latest in cricket, but these days I don’t really follow the game much.” Also: “She’s not active on the local theater scene any more, but she’s still pretty clued in on all the new theater trends, so it’s great to just go talk to her for some time.”
1. What are some topics where you think you are quite clued in? Pop music? The art and theater scene? International affairs? Make a quick list for yourself.
2. Also speak to a couple of friends, ask them what topics they are clued in on. Make a similar list for them too.
3. For the rest of this week, if you are offering any information to anyone, always begin by saying ‘let me clue you in.”