Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia.
To urge, encourage, or goad someone onward in some task or activity. Likened to applying the spurs on one's boots to compel a horse to move forward or go faster. A noun or pronoun can be used between "spur" and "on." There were times when she wanted to give up, but her desire to beat her rival in the championship spurred her on. Analysts think the president's recent actions have spurred on the economy.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
spur someone on
to urge someone onward; to egg someone on. (Fig. on applying spurs to a horse.) The crowd spurred the runners on throughout the race. The cheering spurred on the runners.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Goad or urge ahead, as in The thought of winning a Pulitzer Prize spurred the reporter on. This expression transfers using spurs to make a horse go faster to incentives of other kinds. [Late 1500s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To urge some horse onward by the use of spurs: The knight spurred the horse on across the shallow river. I spurred on the horse as fast as it could go.
2. To stimulate or encourage someone or something: Low gas prices spurred on the booming economy. We never could have finished the project if our boss hadn't spurred us on.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.