league

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big leagues

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.
See also: big, league

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.
See also: league, of, own

major league(s)

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.
See also: league, of, out

bush 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. Primarily heard in US. 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!
See also: bush, league

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.
See also: league, of, out

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.
See also: league

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.
See also: league, same

Ivy League

1. noun The collective name for the group of eight prestigious universities located in the Northeastern US, including Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. Meredith really wants to go to a school in the Ivy League, but I doubt she has good enough grades.
2. adjective Referring to those universities. Meredith really wants to go to an Ivy League school, but I doubt she has good enough grades.
See also: ivy, league

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.
See also: league

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.
See also: league, not, same

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."
See also: big, league, play

big league

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.
See also: big, league

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.
See also: league

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]
See also: league, same

seven-league boots

the ability to travel very fast on foot.
This phrase comes from the fairy story of Hop o' my Thumb, in which magic boots enable the wearer to travel seven leagues at each stride.
See also: boot

be in a different ˈleague

be much better, bigger, etc. than other similar things, people, etc: The new designs are in a different league from those that have been used before.
See also: different, league

be out of somebody’s ˈleague

(informal) be too difficult, expensive, etc. for somebody: You can’t afford a lawyer like that. She’s way out of your league.
See also: league, of, out

in ˈleague (with somebody)

making secret plans with somebody: They accused him of being in league with the terrorists, which of course he denied.
See also: league

not be in the same ˈleague/ˈclass/ˈstreet

(informal) be of a much lower standard than somebody/something: He was a good painter, but not in the same league as Picasso.We’re not in the same class as the Swiss ski team. They’re the best in the world.
See also: class, league, not, same, street

big league

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 also: big, league

big-league

verb

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.”
See also: big, league, play

bush league

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.
See also: bush, league

Ivy League

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.
See also: ivy, league