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waiting in the wings

Meaning: If you're waiting in the wings, you're ready to take over a role or a position when you have the chance to do so.

For example:

  • In politics, there are always plenty of people waiting in the wings ready for a chance to take power.

  • Everybody knows that the chairman's son is waiting in the wings and will take over as soon as his father retires.

Origin: Metaphorical and related to the fact that stage actors wait in the wings at the side of the stage until it's time for them to play their part in the drama.

Quick Quiz:

The assistant coach is waiting in the wings, and when the coach retires, he'll
  1. leave as well
  2. take over as coach
  3. keep his job as assistant coach

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