set the bar


set the bar (high or low)


  • fix the standards acceptable for the task
  • establish the desired level of quality or competence required
  • the minimum or maximum expected to meet what is needed
  • set the bar high means something is hard to achieve
  • set the bar low, and it will be easy to do

Example Sentences

  1. Don’t set the bar so high that it’s impossible to achieve anything.
  2. The army regiment sets the bar high, and the recruits have to rise to meet it.
  3. Collin is a top-class chef, and he sets the bar high for his trainees.
  4. The trouble with Stacie and the men is that she sets the bar so low and is always disappointed when they don’t turn out how she expected.
  5. The publisher has set the bar so high that I can’t get any of my manuscripts accepted for print.


This phrase appears to originate in the 1950s in the athletics field of pole vaulting. Around this time, new poles were being introduced made from composites instead of the more traditional bamboo or aluminium. Therefore, the pole-vaulters were able to set the bar higher and break new records with how high they could jump.

Share your opinions

What's on your mind?

, ,