What does the idiom "stand in sb's way" mean?

Are you using the idiom stand in sb's way but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the stand in sb's way idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "stand in sb's way"


The idiom “stand in someone’s way” generally means to prevent someone from achieving a goal or succeeding in some kind of endeavor. It is often used to refer to an obstacle that is blocking someone from reaching their intended destination or completing their task. The implication is that the obstacle can be removed with effort or effort. It can also suggest that the obstacle is preventing the success of another person.


The phrase “stand in someone’s way” dates back to the 16th century and was a common phrase that was used to describe anything that acted as an obstacle to success. In the 1700’s it was used to describe someone in the way of progress, as well as something that would failure to materialize. The phrase “stand in someone’s way” has been in use ever since.


The idiom “stand in someone’s way” is commonly used in everyday conversations to refer to an obstacle that is preventing someone from achieving their goal. It is usually used to describe something that can be removed with effort, like an obstacle in a race or a wall blocking access to a certain area. The phrase can also be used metaphorically to refer to a person or group that is getting in the way of someone’s success.

Example Sentences

  • I'm not trying to stand in your way, but I think you should reconsider before making this decision.
  • We can't let the bullies stand in our way. We have to keep fighting for our rights.
  • There are a lot of obstacles standing in our way, but I believe we can find a way to succeed.

The meanings of the words in the "stand in sb's way" idiom

The Global Spread of English Idioms

As English has become a global language, its idioms have spread far beyond the borders of the UK and USA. For instance, the idiom "beat around the bush" has equivalents in many other languages, such as "tourner autour du pot" in French and "dar vueltas al asunto" in Spanish. Meanwhile, other idioms have been adapted for local contexts, such as the Russian idiom "?? ???? ???????" (ne svoya rubashka), which translates to "not one's own shirt," meaning to be in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation.


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