With Flying Colors

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A phrase used since the 17th century.

Meaning

With flying colors means with easy and outstanding success. To succeed at something extremely well.

Usage

"I was worried about my medical exam but I passed with flying colors."

"I hardly studied at all but I still passed the test with flying colors."

"Bill came through the course with flying colors."

ship-flying-the-colors.jpg
ship-flying-the-colors.jpg

Origin

The idiom 'with flying colors' originated with the practice of victorious ships flying flags, or 'colors,' from their masthead as they sailed back into port, announcing their victory. To be flying the colors meant the ship had won. Related is the idiom "to show your true colors," as sometimes ships would fly false colors in order to deceive the enemy.

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