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earn your stripes

This page is about the idiom earn your stripes


If you earn your stripes, you do something to prove that you have the skills or ability for a particular job or rank.

For example

  • He earned his stripes in the department of foreign affairs before becoming one of our ambassadors.

  • You'll need to earn your stripes as a travelling salesman before we can think about giving you more responsibility.

Origin: Probably related to the fact in many organisations, including the armed forces, police forces, fire brigades, the boy scouts, etc., a person's rank is often shown by the number of stripes that are sewn onto the shoulder of their uniform.

Quick Quiz

If someone has earned their stripes, they can expect

a. to get a higher position

b. to lose their job

c. to retire from work
a) to get a higher position b) to lose their job c) to retire from work

Idiom of the Day

Contributor: Matt Errey