rags to riches
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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.
(from) rags to richesused 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.
rags to riches, from
From poverty to wealth through one’s own efforts; the self-made man or woman. This phrase was the theme of the 130 or so extremely popular novels of Horatio Alger (1834–99), whose heroes always rose from their lowly position by virtue of hard work, thrift, and pluck to win great wealth and happiness. R. de Toledano used it in Frontiers of Jazz, writing of the clarinetist Benny Goodman, “Goodman was the first real rags-to-riches success in the swing-jazz field.”
See also: rag