steal a march on

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.
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