In a Row: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
December 16, 2023

The phrase "in a row" means something happens consecutively, without any break or interruption. It shows that an event or action is repeated back-to-back, whether winning a game, showing up to work on time, or even simple things like hitting all green lights while driving.

In short:

  • It points out that something occurs one after the other without a gap.
  • It highlights the ongoing or repetitive nature of an event or action.

What Does "In a Row" Mean?

The phrase "in a row" is used to express that something has occurred repeatedly and without interruption. If someone says, "I've been to the gym five days in a row," it means they went to the gym every day for five days without skipping a day.

Let's dig deeper into its core meanings and usage:

  • "In a row" is used to describe a string of events or actions happening one after another without a break.
  • The phrase helps show that something is consistent or steady over some time.
  • It can be used in various contexts, from sports and games to daily activities and work.
  • It often emphasizes a sense of accomplishment or, in some cases, a negative pattern that might need to be broken.
  • Similar phrases include "one after another," "consecutively," "back-to-back," and "on the trot."

Where Does "In a Row" Come From?

The phrase "in a row" appears to have evolved from the Old English words "rǣw, rāw," which likely originated from Proto-Germanic roots meaning "row, streak, line." The term "row" came to signify a linear arrangement of things or a sequence. In the phrase "in a row," it emphasizes the idea of consecutive or sequential events, one following the other without interruption. The phrase has been adopted into modern English to describe anything that happens repeatedly in a direct sequence, whether winning games, attending events, or any other consecutive actions.

10 Examples of "In a Row" in Sentences

To help you get a better grip on how to use "in a row," let's look at some real-world examples:

  • She's won the tennis tournament three times in a row, which is quite an achievement.
  • He showed up late for work five days in a row and got fired.
  • Talk to you soon; we've been chatting for three days in a row now.
  • He ate sushi three days in a row. He's stuffed to the gills.
  • I can't believe I had to wait at five red lights in a row on my way home!
  • I tried to fix the issue three times in a row, to no avail.
  • We watched all the Harry Potter movies two nights in a row.
  • I had pizza for dinner three nights in a row.
  • He scored goals in three matches in a row.
  • He was exhausted in reference to the meetings held three days in a row.

Examples of "In a Row" in Pop Culture

The phrase "in a row" is often used in various areas of pop culture, especially in sports and entertainment.

Let's take a look:

  • A New York Times article discusses the TV success story of Wizard of Oz: "Each of its first nine years in a row, more than 49 percent of the television audience watched Judy Garland whirled by a cyclone to a magical land to meet a wizard who is a humbug."
  • An MTV News article mentions that "Conrad's young-adult novel, L.A. Candy, has landed at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list for Children's Chapter Books for two weeks in a row."
  • A Billboard article reports that "Grey's Anatomy" is the top TV show for music synchs for the "sixth year in a row."
  • An article on LinkedIn talks about how the TV series Euphoria drove music streaming numbers for about "five weeks in a row."

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "In a Row"

If you're looking for other ways to express the same idea, here are some alternatives:

  • Back-to-back
  • Consecutively
  • One after another
  • Without a break
  • Non-stop
  • Successively
  • Repeatedly
  • On the trot
  • Continuously
  • Without interruption

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "In a Row":

  • What does "in a row" mean?

"In a row" means consecutively, without interruption or variation. It's often used to indicate a series of identical or similar events or actions that occur one after the other.

  • How can I use "in a row" in a sentence?

You can use "in a row" to show that something happens consecutively, without a break. For example, "She won the match three times in a row," or "He showed up late five days in a row.

  • Is "in a row" a formal expression?

No, "in a row" is not considered a formal expression. You can use it in both casual and formal settings to talk about consecutive events or actions.

  • Can "in a row" refer to periods of time?

Yes, "in a row" can refer to periods of time, like days, weeks, or even years. For example, "I've worked out five days in a row," or "The company has posted profits for three years in a row."

  • Does "in a row" always mean without a single break?

Generally, yes. "In a row" implies that events happen one after the other, without interruption or variation.

  • Can it be used in negative sentences?

Yes, "in a row" can be used in negative sentences to indicate that something did not happen consecutively. For example, "I haven't seen her three days in a row."

  • Does "in a row" apply to just time-based events?

No, "in a row" can refer to any sequence of similar or identical events, not just time-based ones. For example, "He answered five questions correctly in a row."

  • Can "in a row" be used for small sets of events?

Yes, "in a row" can be used even when talking about a small number of events. For example, "He hit two home runs in a row."

  • What's the opposite of "in a row"?

The opposite of "in a row" could be phrases like "intermittently," "sporadically," or "occasionally," which all imply a lack of consecutive occurrence.

  • Does "in a row" have a symbolic meaning?

While mainly used literally to describe consecutive events, "in a row" can also be used more loosely to emphasize repetitiveness in a behavior or situation, although this is less common.

Final Thoughts About "In a Row"

The phrase "in a row" is a simple way to talk about things that happen one after the other without a break. It's a useful expression for everyday conversations and can be applied in different contexts, from sports and work performance to daily habits.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "In a row" is commonly used to highlight consecutive events or actions.
  • The phrase is versatile, fitting well in both formal and informal contexts.
  • "In a row" doesn't necessarily have to refer to a large number of events; it can apply to small sets as well.

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