separate the men from the boys, to

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separate the men from the boys

To distinguish or separate the experienced, competent, or strong participants from those who are not. We've had some easy games so far in the season, but this next one is going to separate the men from the boys. This is a business that separates the men from the boys—don't get involved unless you have what it takes.
See also: boy, men, separate

separate the men from the boys

 and separate the sheep from the goats
Fig. to separate the competent from those who are less competent. (Not necessarily just about males.) This is the kind of task that separates the men from the boys. Working in a challenging place like this really separates the sheep from the goats.
See also: boy, men, separate

separate the men from the boys

Distinguish between mature, experienced individuals and novices, as in The picket line will separate the men from the boys in the union. The idiom is used without respect to gender. [c. 1930]
See also: boy, men, separate

separate (or sort out) the men from the boys

show or prove which people in a group are truly competent, brave, or mature.
1968 House & Garden The Dry Martini…is a drink that will quickly separate the men from the boys and the girls from their principles.
See also: boy, men, separate

separate the men from the boys, to

To distinguish those who are mature and competent from those who are young and green. This term, always used figuratively, was popular in business and politics from the 1930s on, often put as “This emergency will separate the men from the boys”—that is, will show who is able to deal with it effectively. The mystery writer A. A. Fair used it in Beware (1956): “This is the kind of stuff that separates the men from the boys.”
See also: men, separate
References in periodicals archive ?
WELCOME to Newcastle United Mastermind - our new quiz which intends to separate the men from the boys.
Ever since my own playing days it's been a place that tends to separate the men from the boys.
The cold hard reality of sudden death football will come home to roost for two of the four teams in action this weekend as the NRL looks to separate the men from the boys in round two of the finals.
ANY good interviewer will throw out a few killer questions designed to separate the men from the boys.
"The energy I used to put into trying to annoy someone I now put into the game." England depart for New Zealand tomorrow for a two-Test tour that is sure to separate the men from the boys.
The history of the event, in the four years it has been played at Kapalua and for nine years at LaCosta before that, suggests the course is difficult enough to separate the men from the boys and that outsiders never win.
It's time to separate the men from the boys. Bristol City are not the best team in the division, but they were up for the match, we were not.
Indeed, Randal Holme's Academy of Armory uses beard growth alone to separate the men from the boys. Holme lists the different stages of masculine development according to hair growth: he begins with the "child" who he says is "smooth and [has] little hair." Then, he defines a "youth" as having "hair on the head, but none on the face" and finally defines a "Man" as "having a beard" (391).
The ability to follow focus used to separate the men from the boys in sports photography, according to Jerry Lodriguss, a sports photographer for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
"This sport is supposed to separate the men from the boys. Well, he showed that he's still the little boy among us."
Faced with a challenge to separate the men from the boys - climbing rock faces about 80ft high - they decided that they really had to plough through that really tedious report lying in the office, honest.
And then you wouldn't have the stringency of a fixed-price contract to separate the men from the boys."
Behan who has now played himself right into contention for a place in mid-week took just 10 minutes to separate the men from the boys.
At over 7,300 yards, it is certainly long enough and is more than likely to separate the men from the boys.