To get ahead

Posted by R. Berg on February 28, 2002

In Reply to: To get ahead posted by Weston on February 28, 2002

: I'm a little confused when I look closely at the common north american expression "to get ahead". I believe it could mean one of three things. It could mean to progress in life. It could mean to rise up beyond household costs, to stay out of debt. Or it could mean to get out ahead of the pack, to outdo your neighbors or social circle. Which is the main meaning?

The first one you described, general progress, such as success in one's career. People sometimes say they can't seem to "get ahead" when they're having budgetary troubles and aren't saving money, but in that case their expression is short for "get ahead of the bills (expenses, debts, creditors)."