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Related to league: Ivy League, League table, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
An area, echelon, or sphere of great competition, success, power, achievement, etc. Refers to major (i.e., "big") leagues of sports teams. I know you're new here, but you need to perform much better than that. You're in the big leagues now. Welcome to the big leagues, senator.
in a league of (one's)/its own
Completely superior to others of one's or its kind. As a lawyer, Janice is truly in a league of her own. The reigning Super Bowl champions continue to play as if they're in a league of their own. The newest car from Ferrari is in a league of its own.
An area, echelon, or sphere of great competition, success, power, achievement, etc. Refers to the major leagues of sports teams. I know you're new here, but you need to perform much better if you want to stay in this law firm. You're in the major leagues now. Welcome to the major league of politics, senator.
See also: major
be out of (one's) league
To be a poor match for someone, often because someone or something is considered superior. Although it can be used in other situations, this phrase is very often applied to romantic partners that are not similarly attractive or wealthy. I can't believe that average-looking guy is dating a supermodel—she is totally out of his league! I've only been working in IT for a few months, so that advanced position is really out of my league.
slang Subpar or inept; lame. The phrase comes from minor league baseball, in which some teams played on unkempt fields bordered by bushes, or in rural, "bush" towns. Their operation is pretty bush league—no professionalism at all. The way you just let that forward go around you and score was bush league, dude—show some effort and play harder!
out of (one's) league
1. Not the proper match for someone, often because the other person is considered superior in some way. (Although it can be used in other situations, this phrase is very often applied to romantic partners that are not similarly attractive or wealthy.) I can't believe that average-looking guy is dating a supermodel—she is totally out of his league!
2. Not something one has the preparation or skills to accomplish. I've only been working in the department for a few months, so that management position is really out of my league.
in league (with someone)
In close, often secretive or conspiratorial cooperation with someone. It turned out that the business tycoon was in league with local law enforcement to have the investigation dropped. We've been in league with a company overseas who can produce the product for half the price.
in the same league
Having the same or similar qualities, skills, or achievements. While their journey to the Olympics has been remarkable, it's clear that this young team is just not in the same league as the rest of the competition.
in league (with someone)
Fig. [of people] secretly cooperating, often to do something bad or illegal. The county sheriff is in league with criminals. The car thieves and some crooked police are in league to make money from stolen cars.
not in the same league with someone or something
not nearly as good as someone or something. John isn't in the same league with Bob at tennis. This house isn't in the same league with our old one.
play in the big leagues
Fig. to be involved in something of large or important proportions. (Alludes to playing a professional sport at the highest level.) You had better shape up if you want to play in the big leagues. The conductor shouted at the oboist, "You're playing in the big leagues now. Tune up or ship out."
An area of tough competition and high rewards; the largest or foremost of its kind. For example, Winning an Oscar put this unknown actress in the big league. The term alludes to the major (big) leagues of American baseball. [Late 1800s] Also see big time, def. 2.
in league with
Also, in cahoots with. In close cooperation or in partnership with, often secretly or in a conspiracy. For example, "For anybody on the road might be a robber, or in league with robbers" (Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859), or We suspect that the mayor is in cahoots with the construction industry. The first term dates from the mid-1500s. The variant, a colloquialism dating from the early 1800s, may come from the French cahute, "a small hut or cabin," and may allude to the close quarters in such a dwelling.
in the same league
On the same level of skill, in the same class, as in As a woodworker, Bill wishes he were in the same league as Carl, who is a master carpenter. This metaphoric expression alludes to the leagues of baseball clubs, categorized as major or minor. It is often put negatively as not in the same league, as in This restaurant is not in the same league as the French café across the street. [Early 1900s]
1. n. a situation where competition is keen and a high level of performance is expected. (Usually plural. Referred originally to major league sports.) You’re in the big leagues now—no more penny-ante stuff.
2. and big-league mod. professional; big time. (From baseball.) When I’m a big-league star, I’ll send you free tickets.
See big league
play in the big leagues
in. to become involved in something of large or important proportions. The conductor shouted at the oboist, “You’re playing in the big leagues now. Tune up or ship out.”
Anything amateurish or otherwise below professional caliber. Baseball teams have been divided into two broad categories. Major league teams, also known as the big leagues, have the most professional players who play in state-of-the-art stadiums. Then there are minor league teams, composed of players on their way up or down the baseball ladder and ballparks that range in quality from almost-major league to close-to-sandlot. The latter fields, especially those in rural areas, weren't always enclosed by fences; instead they had shrubbery around their perimeters. Hence the phrase “bush league,” where the level of play was far from major league ability. The expression quickly spread to any endeavor that was less than expertly done.
A preppy clothing style. Named for the athletic federation of Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale, “Ivy League” described a 1950s and '60s men's fashion: pants with no pleats and a buckle in the rear. The buckle could be used to expand or shorten the waist fit, although it was primarily for adornment. There were also British-influence narrow-brim caps that had a buckle in the back. Why “Ivy League”? The schools were considered (at least by some) to be sophisticated, elite, and thus worthy of emulation, an attitude that their students did little to disabuse.