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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 ?
John Paul DeJoria's rags-to-riches story exemplifies the American dream -- he is a first-generation American turned entrepreneur, philanthropist, government servant, and pillar of the business community.
The rags-to-riches story of Lynn, who was married as a teenager and already a mother of four when she started performing seriously in 1961, was told in her autobiographical book and a 1980 movie, ``Coal Miner's Daughter.
The rags-to-riches success was the biggest in the career of jockey Robert Miles, who once quit racing to work as a tyre fitter.
Lucy'' is standard-issue, uninspired, Hollywood rags-to-riches folderol focusing on the stormy relationship between Ball and husband Desi Arnaz in both real life and on her sitcom ``I Love Lucy.
AMC's "Designing Women" festival begins at 8:00 PM (ET) with the rags-to-riches drama MAHOGANY (1975).
This rags-to-riches story is so perfect in and of itself that Hollywood couldn't possibly improve upon it with any embellishments (Seabiscuit's story already received the movie treatment, in 1949).
WALES scrum-half Rob Howley completes a rags-to-riches recovery when he pulls on the No 9 jersey for the first time since being cruelly denied Test honours by a dislocated shoulder in 1997.
Its top graduates are legendary on the PGA Tour for their rags-to-riches success stories:
But will Martine's rags-to-riches life story nark Danniella, whose fortunes seem to be going in the opposite direction?
The rags-to-riches story of the eccentric and colorful Evalyn Walsh McLean was filled with opulence and tragedy, including suicide and drug addiction, and has been featured on The Learning Channel and in a Smithsonian Institution film.
Watson, whose bio tells a rags-to-riches story that seems too scripted to be entirely believable, drew an ecstatic response for ``O Sole Mio,'' in which he gave a little wave to friends in the front, ``Faith of My Heart'' (the Diane Warren-penned ``Star Trek'' theme) and ``Volare,'' from his next disc.
And now the pin-up actor will play Mariah's love interest in All That Glitters, a familar-sounding rags-to-riches tale of a singer's rise to stardom.
To complete a Valentine's gift, romantics can give the book Queen of Diamonds (Providence House) by Joseph Gregory and Carol Ann Rapp, which chronicles McLean and her rags-to-riches life of intrigue and elegance.
Mariah Carey follows in the dubious footsteps of a pathetic plethora of pop stars who believe their life force is so bedazzling they just simply must belong in the movies with this hackneyed, inconsequential yarn of the rags-to-riches rise of a virtuous young singer who has taken the worst life can dish out and still .
Directed by Ted Demme (``The Life''), the film is a rags-to-riches story of Jung's rise and then fall in the cocaine trade.