steal someone's thunder

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Based on a 1704 quote of John Dennis, a literary critic and minor playwright, who invented a novel method for creating a sound effect for thunder. The play in which he first introduced this method flopped, and the next play shown in the theatre was Macbeth. When the staging of Macbeth used his technique for simulating thunder, Dennis was reported in the press as jumping up and crying "How these rascals use me! They will not have my play, yet steal my thunder."


  • (file)


steal someone's thunder (third-person singular simple present steals someone's thunder, present participle stealing someone's thunder, simple past stole someone's thunder, past participle stolen someone's thunder)

  1. (idiomatic) To appropriate someone's ideas or information, typically in order to look better at that person's expense.
    • 1855, Jno. E. Vought, “Editor's Table (letters)”, in The Knickerbocker: Or, New-York Monthly Magazine Volume 46, page 101:
      There are several upstarts, who, without the genius to invent a style, have been copying yours, and trying to steal your thunder.
    • 1898, Boot and Shoe Recorder - Volume 33:
      It also serves to give someone else an opportunity to steal your thunder if he considers there is any amount of thunder in it.
  2. (idiomatic) To detract from someone's accomplishments or glory; to undermine.
    • 2011, Chuck Thompson, What Should You Do Before the Tribulation Age of 42, →ISBN, page xxxix:
      I'm in no way, hoping for any such disasters to take place. Nevertheless, I know that they will and I shamefully admit I didn't want those events to steal my thunder. Literally, I want to finish, publish, market, and distribute this book around the world first.
    • 2001, Holly Bergeim, The Customized No No-Nos Weight Loss Plan, →ISBN, page 40:
      The sense of accomplishment is yours to enjoy, and nobody can steal your thunder. Even I couldn't take credit for your weight loss under my own plan, because you're the one who will do the accomplishing.
    • 2005, Walter McDowell & Alan Batten, Branding TV: Principles and Practices, →ISBN, page 116:
      Can Your Competition Steal Your Thunder? Make sure that your competitors can't undermine your statement.