bear the palm

B

bear the palm

Meaning

  • emerge victorious.
  • win first place or the top prize.
  • successful where others have failed.
  • prove oneself the champion or best.
  • a hard-fought victory overall.
  • rise above the rest.
  • claim superiority through dominance or achievement.

Example Sentences

  1. Their sports team had never borne the palm for years, but this year, they finally won the championship.
  2. No one expected the underdog to bear the palm against the longtime champion.
  3. She skillfully argued her point in an intense debate and bore the palm over her opponents.
  4. Much to everyone’s surprise, the newcomer bore the palm in his debut.
  5. It was a hard-fought battle, but she bore the palm by the narrowest of margins.

Origin and History

The earliest known use of the phrase “bear the palm” can be traced back to ancient traditions in the 4th century BC. In Greek and Roman civilizations, winners of athletic competitions would be awarded palm branches as symbols of victory.

The palm branch was seen as a sign of triumph, dominance, and achievement. References to bearing or carrying the palm in writings from this era referred to one who emerged successfully or as the victor in a competition or conflict.

The phrase eventually made its way into Latin texts. In his work “De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum,” written around 45 BC, Roman philosopher Cicero uses the Latin phrase “palmam ferre” to describe winning a contest or debate. This directly translates to “bearing the palm.” Over subsequent centuries, the idiom spread throughout Europe via Roman influences.

One of the earliest printed appearances of the idiom is found in Edmund Spenser’s epic poem “The Faerie Queene,” published in 1590. In Canto X of Book I, Spenser writes, “he bore the palm from all,” in reference to a victorious character in an imagined battle. This solidified the phrase in 16th-century English literature with the meaning of emerging as the champion or winner.

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