steal a march

to gain advantage by being first


steal a march = jdm. zuvorkommen (einen Vorteil erlangen, in dem man schneller als andere handelt)



“Midjourney STOLE A MARCH on the industry; it’s no longer free to use, presumably because of volume of users, but it’s also sparked a conversation on craft skill.”

David Gyimah — Medium Magazine (19th May 2023)

“GB News STEALS A MARCH on BBC over Twelfth coverage. Unionists have welcomed plans by the GB News channel to provide live coverage of the Twelfth of July celebrations.”

Allan Preston — Belfast Telegraph (14th June 2022)

“A bet for Mama? Late Queen's beloved 'STEAL A MARCH' horse is set to run at Cheltenham - with King Charles rumoured to be attending for the first time in 17 years.”

Jo Tweedy — Mailonline (6th March 2023)

Did you

steal a march

- to gain an advantage over (someone) by acting before they do

The Oxford Dictionary


The expression "steal a march" derives from the military sense of secretly moving troops to gain an advantage over the enemy — in medieval warfare, a march was the distance an army could travel in a day. By quietly marching at night, a force could surprise and overtake the enemy at daybreak. Its figurative use dates from the second half of the 1700s.

In this context "steal", which can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic stelan, means to move quietly. It has cognates in other languages such as the German stehlen and is associated with the English word “stealth” (Heimlichkeit).


Apart from “stealing a march”, you can also "steal someone's thunder”, which refers to using another's idea, especially to one's advantage.

This idiom comes from John Dennis, a 17th century playwright and critic, invented a new method of simulating the sound of thunder in the theatre and used it in his own unsuccessful play "Appius and Virginia". The play closed after a short run, but Dennis later attended a performance of Macbeth by a rival company and discovered they had stolen his thunder effect. He furiously exclaimed:

“Damn them! They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder!”


be ahead of the curve, be in the lead, be in the vanguard, be one step ahead, be out in front, beat someone to the punch, get ahead of, get a head start on, get the drop on, get the jump on, have the edge on, outdistance, outmaneuver, outpace, outperform, outrun, outshine, outstrip, overtake, STEAL A MARCH on, surpass, upstage

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“In the battle for creating ‘Artificial General Intelligence’, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are using their best brains and AI systems to STEAL A MARCH on each other."  

THANKS to Wiebke for suggesting today's word!

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations.

Every month, I spend evening and weekend hours with my family researching and writing your daily OWAD. It remains FREE, AD-free, and ALIVE thanks to voluntary donations from appreciative readers.

If you aren’t already, please also consider supporting us - even the equivalent of a single cup of coffee a month will help us cover mailing, site hosting, and maintenance costs. Just head over to DonorBox:

or bank transfer to Paul Smith
IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40
Please use your email-address as ‘Verwendungszweck’

Thank you,

More Word Quizzes: