steal a march on


1 [mahrch]
verb (used without object)
to walk with regular and measured tread, as soldiers on parade; advance in step in an organized body.
to walk in a stately, deliberate manner.
to go forward; advance; proceed: Time marches on.
verb (used with object)
to cause to march.
the act or course of marching.
the distance covered in a single period of marching.
advance; progress; forward movement: the march of science.
a piece of music with a rhythm suited to accompany marching.
march on, to march toward, as in protest or in preparation for confrontation or battle: The angry mob marched on the Bastille.
on the march, moving ahead; progressing; advancing: Automation is on the march.
steal a march on, to gain an advantage over, especially secretly or slyly.

1375–1425; late Middle English marchen < Middle French march(i)er, Old French marchier to tread, move < Frankish *markōn presumably, to mark, pace out (a boundary); see mark1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To steal a march on
World English Dictionary
march1 (mɑːtʃ)
1.  (intr) to walk or proceed with stately or regular steps, usually in a procession or military formation
2.  (tr) to make (a person or group) proceed: he marched his army to the town
3.  (tr) to traverse or cover by marching: to march a route
4.  the act or an instance of marching
5.  a regular stride: a slow march
6.  a long or exhausting walk
7.  advance; progression (of time, etc)
8.  a distance or route covered by marching
9.  a piece of music, usually in four beats to the bar, having a strongly accented rhythm
10.  steal a march on to gain an advantage over, esp by a secret or underhand enterprise
[C16: from Old French marchier to tread, probably of Germanic origin; compare Old English mearcian to mark1]

march2 (mɑːtʃ)
1.  Also called: marchland a frontier, border, or boundary or the land lying along it, often of disputed ownership
2.  (intr; often foll by upon or with) to share a common border (with)
[C13: from Old French marche, from Germanic; related to mark1]

March1 (mɑːtʃ)
the third month of the year, consisting of 31 days
[from Old French, from Latin Martius (month) of Mars]

March2 (març)
the German name for the Morava

abbreviation for
Master of Architecture

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

early 15c., from M.Fr. marcher "to march, walk," from O.Fr. marchier "to stride, march," originally "to trample," perhaps from Frankish *markon (from source of obsolete M.E. march (n.) "borderland," (see march (n.)). Or possibly from Gallo-Roman *marcare, from L. marcus "hammer,"
via notion of "tramping the feet." Noun meaning "act of marching" is from 1580s. The musical sense first attested 1570s, from notion of "rhythmic drumbeat" for marching. Marching band is attested from 1955.

(obs.) "boundary," late 13c. (in ref. to the borderlands beside Wales, rendering O.E. Mercia), from O.Fr. marche "boundary, frontier," from Frank. *marka (cf. O.H.G. marchon "to mark out, delimit," Ger. Mark "boundary;" see mark (1)).

c.1200, from Anglo-Fr. marche, from O.Fr. marz, from L. Martius (mensis) "(month) of Mars," from Mars (gen. Martis). Replaced O.E. hreðmonaþ, of uncertain meaning, perhaps from hræd "quick, nimble, ready, active, alert, prompt." For March hare, proverbial type of madness, see mad.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

steal a march on

Gain an advantage over unexpectedly or secretly, as in Macy's stole a march on their rival department store with their Thanksgiving Day parade. This metaphoric expression comes from medieval warfare, where a march was the distance an army could travel in a day. By quietly marching at night, a force could surprise and overtake the enemy at daybreak. Its figurative use dates from the second half of the 1700s.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature