make the grade

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Probably from a railway train climbing a length of track sloping uphill (a grade).

Verb[edit]

make the grade

  1. (idiomatic) To prove satisfactory; to be successful or worthy of merit.
    • 1938, "Tarnished Plate," Time, 17 Oct.:
      In 1916 the famed Van Sweringen brothers bought their first railroad—the Nickel Plate. . . . This year, as usual, the tarnished Nickel Plate cannot make the grade. In first seven months it lost $2,003,779.
    • 2009, Margaret Wente, "Please stop nannying us, Toronto!" Globe and Mail (Canada), 19 March, p. A13:
      In the end, only eight plucky contestants made the grade.

Synonyms[edit]

See also[edit]