Raise the bar: Meaning, synonyms & origin + 9 example sentences

What does “Raise the bar” mean?

The idiom “Raise the bar” means to set higher standards and expectations than before, hence demanding more effort and struggle. If you raise the bar, you set higher aims and goals than were expected before, thus making the competition harder for others to meet.

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9 examples of how to use “Raise the bar” in a sentence

  • The launch of the latest Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 has really raised the bar for the contemporary automotive industries. It can reach a speed of up to 400 km/h! 
  • If you want to get noticed, you’ll have to raise the bar. The standards of the model industry are really high. 
  • Each year, the boss raises the bar, making it a challenge to keep up with the work. 
  • Your efforts are really impressive—you sure have raised the bar for your peers.
  • You promised to raise the bar this season, but the quality of your products is still the same. 
  • Have you heard that Acer’s new laptops are claimed to raise the bar for the entire laptop industry? I am really excited about their launch!
  • I believe this project will attract more customers and raise the bar for future investments.
  • Although you’re the best one around, you still need to keep raising the bar for others, or else you’ll lose your position in no time.
  • I think the university will raise the bar for the new batch because of competition is higher than ever.

The origin of “Raise the bar”

The etymological roots of the phrase, “raise the bar” lie in the late 19th or the early 20th century. The exact origin is unknown, but it has arisen from athletic terminology. It comes from field and track games, such as the High Jump and the Pole Vault. In the High Jump, the athlete has to run some distance and then jump from a bar, parallel to the ground. The bar is raised after each round, till only one person can jump from it. Similarly, in the Pole Vault, the rule is the same, except in this, the athlete uses a pole to assist him/her in jumping through the bar. The sportsman runs through a distance with a long flexible pole, plants one end of the pole in the ground, and projects himself/herself over the bar. The one with the highest jump wins and hence sets a record/standard for the others. This also makes it more challenging, hence requiring more effort. Such games are very common in Olympics, and since both of these games involve a bar, hence the expression, “raise the bar”

The metaphoric association with the term might have emerged, later on, relating to setting an improved standard, and thus, raising the expectations, as well as the competition. The term is common in the business where different standards are being set every now and then for the workers, thus demanding more struggle.

Synonyms for “Raise the bar”

Raise expectations, raise standards, aim for, yardstick, standard, benchmark, expectations, hopes, prospects, excel yourself, criterion, measure, set a guide, touchstone, model, prototype, example, architype, epitome, enhance the level, raise the level, upshift, step further, work harder, lift hopes, baseline, gauge, quality assurance, caliber, level, par, grade, rating, score, excellence.

Idioms related to “Raise the bar”

  • Set a high bar
  • Set the standard
  • Push the envelope
  • Raise one’s spirits
  • Set a benchmark
  • Up the ante
  • Pick the right horse
  • Break/smash a record
  • Do someone proud
  • Fulfill your potential
  • Give a good account of yourself
  • Put up a good show
  • Outdo yourself
  • Do something justice
  • Earn your stripes
  • Set your sights
  • Lift the bar
  • Step up demands
  • Take/kick/bring it up a notch
  • Gear up
  • Raise the stakes
  • Push the boat out