Put on a Pedestal: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
November 6, 2023

The expression "put on a pedestal" refers to the act of greatly admiring or idealizing someone, often to the point where they can do no wrong in the eyes of the admirer. It's like saying, "I hold this person in such high regard that they're above everyone else in my eyes." The phrase can be used in various contexts, from romantic infatuations to fanatical devotion to a celebrity or hero. However, it's often used with a cautionary tone, as putting someone on a pedestal can lead to unrealistic expectations and eventual disappointment when that person fails to live up to the elevated status.

In short:

"Put on a pedestal" means to admire or worship someone excessively, often overlooking their faults.

What Does "Put on a Pedestal" Mean?

When we say someone is "put on a pedestal," we mean that they are being highly admired or excessively revered, often to the point where their flaws or mistakes are ignored or overlooked. It's as if that person is elevated on a higher platform, making them seem better than they might actually be.

  • It can reflect admiration.
  • It can also imply overlooking faults.
  • It suggests elevating someone beyond ordinary levels.

While it's natural to admire someone for their achievements or qualities, this idiom warns us of the dangers of blind admiration. It's important to remember that no one is perfect!

Where Does "Put on a Pedestal" Come From?

The phrase draws imagery from the ancient practice of raising statues of notable individuals on pedestals. These pedestals elevated the statue, drawing attention and reverence to it.

Historical Context

The phrase is demonstrated in this excerpt from the 1913s:

"But I have never seen a hero on a pedestal..."

- Crowds; A Moving-picture of Democracy by Gerald Stanley Lee

The use of pedestals for statues made the figure appear larger than life, creating an aura of respect and veneration. This practice led to the metaphorical usage of the phrase to mean elevating someone's status or regard in society.

10 Examples of "Put on a Pedestal" in Sentences

Let's look at how this idiom can be used in different contexts:

  • I had put you on a pedestal, only for you to let me down in the end.
  • It's unhealthy to put celebrities on pedestals as if they're flawless.
  • Just because he's the team captain doesn't mean we should put him on a pedestal.
  • You might admire her, but don't put her on such a high pedestal that you can't see her mistakes.
  • Everyone puts her on such a high pedestal that it feels like the entire world bows down to her.
  • It's easy to put someone on a pedestal when you're in love.
  • Parents sometimes place their children on pedestals, making it hard for them to handle failures.
  • Being put on a pedestal can be pressuring, as it comes with many expectations.
  • As he climbed the social ladder, he realized that those he once put on a pedestal were just as human as he was.
  • Society often puts beauty on a pedestal, ignoring other essential qualities.

Examples of "Put on a Pedestal" in Pop Culture

This idiom has also found its way into popular culture:

  • The song "Pedestal" by Fergie talks about the pressures of being put on a pedestal by the media.
  • In the movie "Notting Hill," the character Anna Scott, played by Julia Roberts, feels she's constantly put on a pedestal because of her celebrity status.
  • Several episodes of "Friends" show characters feeling the strain of being put on a pedestal by their loved ones.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Put on a Pedestal"

There are various ways to convey the same sentiment as this idiom:

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Put on a Pedestal"

  • What does "put on a pedestal" mean?

It means to admire or worship someone excessively, often ignoring their flaws or mistakes.

  • Where did the idiom come from?

The phrase originates from the ancient practice of placing statues of significant figures on pedestals to elevate and honor them.

  • Is it always negative to "put someone on a pedestal"?

Not always. While it can signify admiration, it can also indicate overlooking faults or setting unrealistic expectations.

  • How can I use the idiom in a sentence?

Example: "She always puts her boyfriend on a pedestal, even when he's clearly in the wrong."

  • Is "put on a pedestal" used worldwide?

While the concept exists in many cultures, the exact phrasing may differ.

  • Can you "put ideas or things on a pedestal," too?

Yes, the idiom can also be used for ideas or highly valued things, sometimes irrationally.

  • Is it related to "standing on a pedestal"?

Yes, both refer to elevating someone or something, but "standing on a pedestal" might emphasize the person's attitude more than others' perceptions.

  • Can it have a positive meaning?

While it usually indicates excessive admiration, in some contexts, it might simply mean holding someone in high regard.

  • Does modern media contribute to "putting celebrities on a pedestal"?

Many believe so, as the media often highlights the best aspects of celebrities, sometimes creating unrealistic images.

  • How can one avoid "putting someone on a pedestal"?

Recognizing and appreciating people for who they are, flaws and all, and setting realistic expectations is essential.

Final Thoughts About "Put on a Pedestal"

The phrase "put on a pedestal" is useful when you want to stress admiration, excessive reverence, or undue importance. Whether talking about a loved one you deeply admire, referring to society's obsession with celebrities, or merely pointing out an overrated phenomenon, "put on a pedestal" is a handy phrase to know and use.

Here's a quick wrap-up:

  • The idiom warns against excessive admiration.
  • It reminds us that everyone has flaws.
  • It underscores the importance of setting realistic expectations.

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