By Leaps and Bounds: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
November 2, 2023

"By leaps and bounds" describes rapid and significant progress or improvement. It conjures an image of someone or something advancing with great strides, quickly covering a lot of ground. This idiom can be applied in numerous situations, from personal growth to business or technology development. It's like saying, "Growing or improving incredibly fast."

In short:

"By leaps and bounds" means to progress or improve rapidly.

What Does "By Leaps and Bounds" Mean?

The phrase "by leaps and bounds" illustrates rapid and substantial growth or improvement. It paints a vivid picture of swift, extensive progression, akin to a person or entity leaping forward to cover considerable ground or advance notably.

Let's delve into its core meanings and usage:

  • Significant Progress: The phrase underscores a hefty or monumental advancement in a particular domain, highlighting not just progress but progress that is notably impactful and transformative.
  • Rapid Improvement: It stresses growth and the speed at which it occurs, indicating that progress or improvement is happening quickly and effectively.
  • Visible Change: The usage typically implies a discernible, evident, observable change rather than a subtle or gradual shift.

This idiom can be used in various contexts, be it personal growth, business expansion, or any development that has seen swift progress.

Where Does "By Leaps and Bounds" Come From?

Its history traces back to Shakespearean times, indicating that it has been in use for several centuries. The phrase is considered redundant because both "leaps" and "bounds" essentially mean "spring" or "jump." However, this redundancy serves to emphasize the speed and extent of the progress being described. The phrase has been widely adopted to describe anything from personal growth to business expansion, emphasizing that the subject has moved ahead quickly, often bypassing normal steps of progression.

Historical Example

And turn'd up bucklers, glitter'd as they roll'd.
High o'er the furging tide, by leaps and bounds,
He wades, and mounts; the parted wave refounds.

- Iliad by Homer, 1790

10 Examples of "By Leaps and Bounds" in Sentences

To understand how "by leaps and bounds" can be used in different contexts, let's explore some examples:

  • Since the new CEO took over, the company's profits have grown by leaps and bounds.
  • Since joining the public speaking course, her confidence has improved by leaps and bounds.
  • The technology in the medical field is advancing by leaps and bounds.
  • The small town has developed by leaps and bounds over the past decade.
  • Since taking that writing course, her skills have improved by leaps and bounds.
  • With the integration of innovative technology, the design field has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past decade.
  • The startup grew by leaps and bounds within just a year of its establishment.
  • After we decided to sand down the old furniture and refinish it, its value increased by leaps and bounds.
  • Environmental concerns have increased by leaps and bounds in recent years.
  • The popularity of e-sports has grown by leaps and bounds in the past five years.

Examples of "By Leaps and Bounds" in Pop Culture

This idiom has been referenced in various facets of popular culture:

  • Marian Small, Amy Lin, and Kathy Kubota-Zarivnij's book is called Leaps and Bounds Toward Math Understanding
  • A book by Joan Andrea Lisman is entitled With Leaps and Bounds.
  • In various interviews, actors have often used the phrase to describe their career progress, such as "My career grew by leaps and bounds after that film."

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "By Leaps and Bounds"

Several expressions and words convey a similar meaning:

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "By Leaps and Bounds":

  • What does the idiom "by leaps and bounds" mean?

It refers to something improving or growing very quickly.

  • Where did the idiom originate?

The phrase has its roots in describing the way animals like deer and rabbits move, which is by leaping or jumping, especially when in a hurry.

  • Can it be used in any context?

While it primarily describes rapid progress or growth, it can be used in various contexts where swift advancement or development is being discussed.

  • Is the idiom popular in pop culture?

Yes, the phrase has been referenced in songs, TV shows, and interviews.

  • Are there synonyms for this idiom?

Yes, words like "rapidly" and "swiftly" or phrases like "at a fast pace" can be used similarly.

  • Is the idiom used globally?

While it is a commonly understood English idiom, its usage might vary based on the cultural context and region.

  • Has the meaning of the idiom changed over time?

No, its core meaning of rapid progress or growth has remained consistent over time.

  • Can the idiom be used in formal writing?

Yes, it can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

  • Is the idiom metaphorical or literal?

While its origins are literal, describing the movement of animals, its common use now is metaphorical, referring to quick progress or growth.

  • Why do idioms like "by leaps and bounds" become popular?

Idioms add color and richness to language, often encapsulating complex ideas in a succinct manner. Their vivid imagery often makes them memorable and relatable.

Final Thoughts About "By Leaps and Bounds"

"By leaps and bounds" is a go-to phrase to emphasize rapid and significant progress or growth. Whether you're discussing the rapid growth of a startup, someone's personal development, or the fast-paced evolution of technology, the phrase succinctly captures the essence of such swift advancement.

Here's a quick wrap-up:

  • It describes rapid and significant progress or improvement.
  • The idiom is derived from the way certain animals move swiftly by leaping.
  • It is widely understood and has found its way into various facets of pop culture.

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