idiom: to give someone a run for their money

I recently heard someone use today’s idiom at a party, so I’d like to write about it today. The expression is to “give someone a run for their money”. It is used when we want to talk about two people doing something which requires some skill. The main person is very good at it, but the second person’s skill is almost equal. The first person is still better, but the second person shows that their skill is almost as good. For example:

Carl is really getting a lot better at tennis. We played yesterday and I won, but he really gave me a run for my money.

Betty wins the baking competition every year, but this year I think I’ll give her a run for her money with my apple pie.

Everyone thinks The Storm by Martin Collins will win the best book prize this year, but the new book by Pauline Young will really give Collins a run for his money.

So far Germany has won 232 gold medals at the Olympics, but Italy is giving them a run for their money with 227 gold medals.

So we usually use this idiom when talking about games, sports or competitions. The idea is the favored person or team to win will have to work harder in order to stay in the lead position. They can’t just relax and assume that they will win for sure.

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