Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
run (something) up the flagpole
To test out an idea in order to gauge interest or gain feedback. Run your idea up the flagpole before you pitch it to the boss, so that you don't make a fool of yourself.
1. verb To hoist or raise something, especially a flag. A noun or pronoun can be used between "run" and "up." Make sure the flag does not touch the ground as you run it up in the mornings.
2. verb To accumulate a large bill or debt that one is obliged to pay. We ran up a huge bill staying in that luxury resort in Las Vegas, but Jake insisted on paying for it. Apparently, he ran up a lot of credit card debts that he couldn't pay off, so he slipped across the border to Canada.
3. verb To cause the value of something to increase. A noun or pronoun can be used between "run" and "up." News of the company doubling production of their very popular tablet device has run their shares up to record highs.
4. verb To run and stop in front of someone or something. I just saw the neighbor kid run up and ring our doorbell. She ran up to me and gave me a huge hug.
5. verb In sports, to continue adding to one's score despite an assured victory due to a large lead, a practice considered poor sportsmanship. They're already ahead by 30, and now they're just running up the score.
6. noun An increase, perhaps a rapid or sudden one. Experts are attributing the run-up in price to a sudden surge in demand.
7. noun The period of time before an event or occurrence. There was no shortage of predictions in the run-up to the election.
run something up
1. Lit. to raise or hoist something, such as a flag. Harry ran the flag up the flagpole each morning. Will you please run up the flag today?
2. Fig. to cause something to go higher, such as the price of stocks or commodities. A rumor about higher earnings ran the price of the computer stocks up early in the afternoon. They ran up the price too high.
3. Fig. to accumulate indebtedness. I ran up a huge phone bill last month. Walter ran up a bar bill at the hotel that made his boss angry.
4. to stitch something together quickly. She's very clever. I'm sure she can run up a costume for you. The seamstress ran up a party dress in one afternoon.
run up (to someone or something)
to run as far as someone or something and stop; to run to the front of someone or something. I ran up to the mailman and said hello to him. I ran up and said hello.
1. Make or become greater or larger, as in That offer will run up the price of the stock. [Late 1500s]
2. Accumulate, as in She ran up huge bills at the florist. [First half of 1700s]
3. Sew rapidly, as in I can run up some new curtains for the kitchen. [Mid-1800s]
4. Raise a flag, as in Let's run up the flag in time for the holiday. This usage, originating in the navy about 1900, gave rise to the slangy phrase, Let's run it up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes, meaning, "Let's try this out." The latter originated about 1960 as advertising jargon.
run something up the flagpole
If you run an idea up the flagpole, you suggest it to people in order to find out what they think of it. That's a great idea. Let's run it up the flagpole and see what happens. Note: If you run a flag up a flagpole, you pull it to the top using the rope attached to the side of the flagpole.
run something up the flagpoletest the popularity of a new idea or proposal.
The idea behind this expression is of hoisting a particular flag to see if it provokes the positive response of a salute.
1. To cause some debt to accumulate: Don't run up such a big bill next time you go out to eat! He has been running a large debt up for months.
2. To increase some value: The craze for this company's stock will run up its price. The bidders ran the price up to $100.
run (something) up the flagpoleSlang
To test (a plan, suggestion, draft, or idea) and then measure the response to it.
run it up the flagpole (and see who salutes), let's
Let’s try this out and see what the reaction is. This cliché, alluding to raising an actual flag up a mast or flagpole, is one of a number of phrases coined in the mid-1900s in the Madison Avenue advertising industry for trying out ads, campaigns, slogans, and the like. Another is that’s how the cookie crumbles. The New Statesman so identified it on March 25, 1966: “The decision was made—in the admen’s jargon that comes naturally to Tory strategists—to run it up the flagpole and see if anyone saluted.” It may be dying out, replaced by the simpler run it by/ past someone. For example, “Bill wanted me to run his new plan by you and see what you think of it,” or “You’d better run it by the teacher before you order any supplies.”