head and shoulders above, to be

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head and shoulders above someone or something

Fig. clearly superior to someone or something. (Often with stand, as in the example.) This wine is head and shoulders above that one. John stands head and shoulders above Bob.
See also: above, and, head, shoulder
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

head and shoulders above

Greatly superior to, as in This book is head and shoulders above her first one. This expression transfers physical stature to other kinds of status. [Mid-1800s]
See also: above, and, head, shoulder
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.

head and shoulders above

by far superior to. informal
1996 Time Out The film stands head and shoulders above 99.9 per cent of post-70's Hollywood product.
See also: above, and, head, shoulder
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

head and shoulders above, to be

To be considerably superior. This expression, which likens superiority to physical stature (a tall person’s head and shoulders obviously are higher than a short person’s), appeared in the 1864 edition of Noah Webster’s American Dictionary. However, it was used in a different sense earlier, that is, the forceful pushing ahead of something or someone. “Any, whom necessity thrusts out by head and shoulders,” wrote Nathaniel Ward (The Simple Cobbler of Agawam in America, 1647).
See also: and, head, shoulder
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Long may you continue to be head and shoulders above the rest.