punch below one's weight

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

An allusion to the sport of boxing, where contenders fight in various weight classes.

Pronunciation[edit]

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Verb[edit]

punch below one's weight (third-person singular simple present punches below one's weight, present participle punching below one's weight, simple past and past participle punched below one's weight)

  1. (idiomatic) To achieve or perform at a level lower than should be expected based on one's preparation, attributes, rank, or past accomplishments.
    • 2001 Sept. 29, "For men who should know better," Telegraph (UK) (retrieved 23 Dec. 2009):
      But the overall effect is flimsy and insubstantial, a gifted writer punching well below his weight.

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