ahead of the curve


ahead of the curve
also, behind the curve (negative form)

Meaning | Synonyms

  • better than others
  • ahead of current trends or thinking
  • in front of others with a new idea
  • ground-breaking in innovation
  • to be more innovative or advanced than others

Example Sentences

  1. His ideas are so innovative, he is way ahead of the curve. He might end up running the company at this rate.
  2. He sold his shares in Nokia and put it into Apple, because he realised they were ahead of the curve.
  3. She is so ahead of the curve with her dress sense.
  4. The gym was brand new and way ahead of the curve with the latest equipment and techniques.
  5. The United States of America is way ahead of the curve in the invention of new technologies.
  6. To be a pollution free country, the Bhutan is ahead of the curve.


The idiomatic expression is most probably originated from the US military.

The current form is said to date from the 1970s when President Nixon and his inner circle used this term as a way of, giving some information to the public before it was common knowledge and then taking credit – Anchorage Daily News 22 May 1974

Other sources suggest that the original phrase stems from the shape of a bell graph which has a huge curve. If you are ahead of the curve, you are staying ahead of everything.

The literal usages of the phrase also refer to flying. The earliest published recorded can be found in Flying Magazine, 1964:

Inherent stability of the plane — if it is being flown ahead of the power curve with level wings — will control the pitch attitude with less chance of structural damage than a pilot applying large elevator control inputs.
Flying Magazine, July 1964

The power curve demonstrates how an aircraft’s speed changes in response to changes in engine power. It has a pronounced lowest at the airspeed at which the airplane is extremely efficient (minimum drag for the power applied). Under this airspeed, in contradiction of common sense, it takes more thrust to decrease speed while remaining to fly level. An aircraft in this state is supposed by pilots to be behind the curve and it’s a dangerous situation to be, nearly stalling speed and with limited possibilities in case of a problem. If you’re above the curve, on the other hand, you have many more choices of operation.

This phrase also means someone or something that is out in the front with a new idea, or a new way of doing something. Something that will become popular or even common at some point in the future. It is especially used in companies or with creators/inventors who have innovative or ground-breaking skills and who are literally in the top position statistically which puts them above the norm.  People who are ahead or the competition. They can be the first and then others will copy.

Share your opinions1 Opinion

A pilot will sometimes, on final approach, operate the aircraft on the “backside the curve” if it especially windy. This is similar to paddling a boat when in the rapids i.e. it provides the pilot with more control essentially forcing the plane through the wind and making a safe landing. Since the throttle is already at high power the pilot, to do a “go around” would just need to reduce the flaps to gain altitude. IMO

‒ Kenneth L Kaftan September 24, 2023

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