March to the Beat of a Different Drummer

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Meaning of Idiom 'March to the Beat of a Different Drummer (or Tune)

To 'march to the beat of a different drummer' means to be and act independently and to behave differently that what is expected or is the norm. Someone who "marches to his own beat" is a person who is not constrained by social norms or rules. The idiom may or may not allude to someone who is purposely unconventional.

Usage

Variations include 'march to a different beat,' 'march to a different drummer,' and 'march to a different tune.' It may be changed to "marching to one's own drummer" without changing the meaning.

"Jack is an unusual guy, he really marches to the beat of a different drummer."

"I don't know if you can keep up with Sue, she would rather rappel down a mountain than go out to a movie. She marches to the beat of her own drummer."

Origin

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, the idiom alludes to someone who is marching in a parade and is out of step. It may have originated with Henry David Thoreau's Statement in Walden (1854): "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

Used as an English idiom since the mid-1900's.

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