The Show Must Go On: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 17, 2023

The idiom "the show must go on" refers to the idea that a planned event or activity should proceed as intended, no matter what difficulties or obstacles arise. It's about pushing through hardship or adversity to fulfill one's commitments or responsibilities. It's an enduring metaphor for resilience and determination, encapsulating the spirit of facing challenges head-on and not giving up, no matter what.

In short:

  • "The show must go on" means you need to keep going with whatever you're doing, even when things get tough or surprises come up.
  • Using "the show must go on" shows you're strong, don't give up easily, and you're serious about what you do.

What Does "The Show Must Go On" Mean?

The phrase "the show must go on" is used to convey that, despite encountering problems or difficulties, one must persevere and carry out the intended task or event. It encapsulates a spirit of resilience, pushing through adversity, and a strong commitment to responsibilities.

Key aspects of the idiom's meaning:

  • It signifies the need to continue with an event or activity, regardless of complications or obstacles.
  • It implies tenacity, determination, and an unwavering commitment to a task.
  • You can use it to describe various situations, not just in the context of a theatrical performance but in any event that requires perseverance.
  • Some similar expressions to "the show must go on" include "carry on regardless," "press on," and "keep on keeping on."

Where Does "The Show Must Go On" Come From?

The expression "the show must go on" has its roots in the world of theater. It's believed to have emerged during the 19th-century circus era. When a performer was injured or a mishap occurred during a circus show, the ringmaster would ensure the spectacle continued so as not to disappoint the audience, hence the phrase "the show must go on." In a broader sense, the phrase embodies the professional ethos of the entertainment industry, where performers are expected to carry on with their performances regardless of any personal or technical difficulties.

Historical Example

"But though sorrows come to heart after heart, and home after home, the show must go on in the world, and on it goes, tinkling and shimmering, marching and drumming, though the sick are dying..."

- Herald and Presbyter, 1915

10 Examples of "The Show Must Go On" in Sentences

Here are some examples of the idiom in use:

  • Belay my last; I changed my mind. The show must go on, no matter what.
  • Even after the star player was injured, the team knew the show must go on, so they rallied and played their best.
  • Pro tip: Always remember that the show must go on in live performances, regardless of any unforeseen hiccups.
  • They thought the show must go on, so even though their flight was delayed, they found a different route to the conference.
  • In my experience, a true professional believes the show must go on regardless of circumstances.
  • Even when faced with significant obstacles, performers know the show must go on.
  • That being said, understanding the principle that the show must go on is essential in any business, not just in performing arts.
  • Don’t give up. The show must go on, and you have to be strong.
  • When faced with adversity, remember the saying the show must go on and push through your challenges.
  • Until then, I will keep practicing. The show must go on, and I want to be ready.

Examples of "The Show Must Go On" in Pop Culture

The phrase "the show must go on" frequently appears in popular culture, including music, movies, and television shows, due to its powerful, universal message of resilience.

Some notable examples are:

  • The song "The Show Must Go On" by Queen is a famous rock anthem about continuing to perform despite immense personal struggle.
  • "The Show Must Go On" is a 2010 movie that unfolds within the context of a reality show. As the show progresses, an unexpected war breaks out, throwing the participants into turmoil.
  • "The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story" is a 2019 TV movie documentary that pays tribute to the iconic rock band Queen and their collaboration with Adam Lambert.

Other Ways to Say "The Show Must Go On"

While "the show must go on" is a recognizable and powerful idiom, other English phrases can communicate a similar sentiment.

Here are a few examples:

  • Carry on regardless
  • Keep on keeping on
  • Press on
  • Persevere
  • Stay the course
  • Keep going
  • Hold the line
  • Stick with it

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "The Show Must Go On":

  • What does "the show must go on" mean?

This idiom expresses the idea that, regardless of difficulties or complications, an event or activity should proceed as planned.

  • What is the origin of the "the show must go on"?

The phrase "the show must go on" has its roots in the 19th-century world of circus and theater, and it is a professional mantra in the entertainment industry.

  • How can I use "the show must go on" in a sentence?

You could say something like, "We were exhausted, but we knew that by the end of the day, the show must go on."

  • Is "the show must go on" used only in theatrical contexts?

While its origins are in theater, the phrase "the show must go on" is now used in a variety of contexts to refer to any situation where an activity or event must continue despite difficulties.

  • Are there other idioms similar to "the show must go on"?

Yes, similar idioms include "carry on regardless," "press on," and "keep on keeping on."

  • Does it have a positive or negative connotation?

The idiom "the show must go on" generally has a positive connotation as it reflects resilience, determination, and the ability to face adversity. However, it can sometimes be viewed negatively if it's used to pressure someone to continue with a task despite unreasonable difficulties.

  • Can I use it in formal writing?

Yes, it's appropriate to use "the show must go on" in both formal and informal writing, as long as it fits the context.

  • Does "the show must go on" imply any physical activity?

No, "the show must go on" is a figurative expression. It doesn't literally refer to a show but can apply to any activity or event.

  • Can "the show must go on" be used in personal contexts?

Yes, "the show must go on" can be used in personal contexts to signify perseverance in face of personal adversities or challenges.

  • Can "the show must go on" be associated with resilience?

Yes, "the show must go on" is often used to symbolize resilience and the determination to continue despite setbacks or difficulties.

Final Thoughts About "The Show Must Go On"

The phrase "the show must go on" embodies the spirit of perseverance in the face of adversity. It's a reminder that life's difficulties shouldn't stop us from carrying on with our tasks, dreams, or duties.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "The show must go on" symbolizes determination and resilience, urging one to continue with an event or activity despite difficulties or complications.
  • While the phrase originated from the world of theater, its usage has expanded to various fields.
  • You can use it to refer to any situation where continuation is crucial despite difficulties.
  • Similar idioms include "carry on regardless," "keep on keeping on," and "press on."

In the end, remember that the power to push through adversity often lies within us. So when faced with challenges, remember – the show must go on!

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