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firing on all cylinders

Meaning: If you're firing on all cylinders, you're functioning as well as you possibly can.

For example:

  • Did you see Steve's presentation today? He was firing on all cylinders and it was brilliant.

  • Kerry has been training hard so she should be firing on all cylinders in the Olympic Games.

Origin: Probably metaphorical, from the fact that a car's engine runs at its best if all the cylinders are firing properly.

Quick Quiz:

Our band was really firing on all cylinders tonight. I wish we'd
  1. had more time to rehearse
  2. recorded the concert
  3. played a lot better

Discuss: firing on all cylinders

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