What does the idiom "with flying colours" mean?

Although the meanings of the words in them do not make any sense when examined one by one, the word groups that are shaped according to the cultural roots of the language and that make sense as a whole are called idioms. with flying colours meaning, in what situations is it used?

Meaning of "with flying colours"


The idiom “with flying colors” is an expression used to indicate a great success or accomplishment. It can also be used to show that someone passed a test or achieved something difficult or challenging. The phrase is often used as a metaphor for passing something with an exceptional level of excellence.


The origins of this phrase can be traced back to the 17th century, when it was used to describe troop movements in battle. At the time, armies would set off to the battlefield with flags bearing their respective colors. If they returned with their flags still flying they were deemed to have won the battle and thus to have passed “with flying colors”.


Today, the phrase “with flying colors” is primarily used to describe achieving something successfully. It can be used to talk about doing well in a test, a sports competition, or any other type of challenge. It is also used to refer to someone who has achieved a great success in their career or life.

Example Sentences

  • My classmate passed the bar exam with flying colors.
  • John was always confident he would pass the interview with flying colors.
  • Gina came out of the surgery with flying colors.
  • The doctor said that my mother had passed the test with flying colors.

The phrase “with flying colors” is also often used in a figurative sense, to describe anything from a person’s demeanor, to a specific activity or event. For example:

  • She breezed through the presentation with flying colors.
  • He passed the speech without making any mistakes—with flying colors.
  • The team completed the project with flying colors.

The meanings of the words in the "with flying colours" 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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