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adjective (used before a noun) Characterized by a rise from poverty to great or exceptional wealth. My uncle's is a true rags-to-riches story: he grew up without a penny, but through sheer determination, he founded his own company and is now one of the wealthiest men in the state.

rags to riches

COMMON If you describe someone's life as a rags to riches story, you are saying that they were very poor when they were young but became very rich and successful later in life. His life sounds to me like the classic rags to riches story. He married some money, I gather, then made a lot more. Note: You can also say that someone goes from rags to riches or rises from rags to riches. When asked how he went from rags to riches, Plunkett said, `I saw my opportunities and I took them.' People who rise from rags to riches are often afraid the good life will be snatched away from them. Note: People sometimes use the expression riches to rags to mean that you have been very rich but have lost a lot of money and so have become very poor. The country went from riches to rags in a generation.
See also: rag, riches

(from) rags to riches

used to describe a person's rise from a state of extreme poverty to one of great wealth.
2000 Imogen Edwards-Jones My Canapé Hell Much was made of his East End roots, his chance discovery on Oxford Street. He was truly a modern day tale of rags to riches.
See also: rag, riches
References in periodicals archive ?
Perry, 31, has lived a rags-to-riches story that surpasses some of the saddest hard-luck plots Hollywood's best screenwriters have dreamed up.
I've always suspected that one of the things that so unhinges Nader's corporate critics is how much closer his own life is to the rags-to-riches American archetype than are their own.
NBA Ballers: Rebound is the only one-on-one basketball videogame available for the PSP highlighting the rags-to-riches path from an unknown Baller to today's biggest NBA superstar and is based on the original Midway title, NBA Ballers.
After Kimberley Walsh's turn in the West End version of Shrek, Cheryl Cole, 28, thinks the ladies' own rags-to-riches story could make it on to stage.
Producers of the feel good, rags-to-riches tale are now searching for two boys and two girls to play the lead juvenile roles of Benny and Nell Bates alongside leading lady Bernie Nolan this November.
Rags-to-riches Clydebank boy Duncan explained: "They smoke and I just find it hard to socialise with people who smoke.
This ever-popular rags-to-riches pantomime story runs from Wednesday, December 12 to Saturday, December 29 at Bedworth Civic Hall.
A 30-strong cast aged six upwards are staging the rags-to-riches tale of Dick Whittington and His Wonderful Cat.
But others found the recently revamped venue in line with the traditional Hollywood rags-to-riches legend.
In the movie Kuno Becker, who plays rags-to-riches footballer Santiago Munez, bumps into Beckham in a club and the pair exchange about 20 words.
In the midst of his grief, Dwayne Grandison struggles with how best to serve God and wrestles with whom to give his heart: a compassionate single mother, who is founder of a church counseling program, or a rags-to-riches Evangelist.
She is one of the world's top authors, yet Catherine Cookson's own life story is a rags-to-riches epic in its own right.
Once, a popular rags-to-riches scenario involved stumbling upon an unknown oil deposit under the backyard--a discovery valuable enough to turn an ordinary citizen into an oil baron.
NBA Ballers: Rebound is the only one-on-one basketball videogame highlighting the rags-to-riches path from an unknown Baller to today's NBA superstar and is based on the original Midway title, NBA Ballers.