Swing for the Fences – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a motivating statement to tell someone to give their best effort and leave it all on the line? If so, you could use the saying “swing for the fences.” This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The meaning of the expression “swing for the fences” is to pull out all the stops. They should go for a big result, regardless of the risk involved with the effort. It’s a last-ditch attempt at achieving success or glory and a motivating statement you can use to get people to perform at their peak.

You can also use it yourself to tell someone that you’re going to take a risky chance on something and give it everything you have in the process.

Example Usage

“Step onto that plate and swing for the fences. The bases are loaded, and now’s your time to shine; you know you can do this!”

“Get out there and swing for the fences on this one. There’s only a minute left, and it’s your last chance to knock him out. It’s now or never.”

“The boss wants us to swing for the fences with this project. He said he trusts our judgment to come up with something the investors will find spectacular.”

“We need to swing for the fences with this one. It’s the last project of the quarter, and if we want to keep our jobs, we need something next-level.”

“Let’s swing for the fences on this one. Nothing is holding us back, and we have the skillset and team to make it happen for the client.”

“Let’s swing for the fences on this lawsuit. We have the guy dead to rights, and he’s loaded. We’ll get a huge settlement for sure.”

Origin

The expression “swing for the fences” comes from the baseball community. According to records, the phrase gained widespread use in America during the 1920s.

At first, it was a uniquely baseball-themed expression. It referenced a batter stepping to the plate to take a wild swing in the hope of making a big hit. He would do so without fear of striking out, as the reward was worth the risk.

The first use of the expression in print comes from the Sandusky Star-Journal newspaper, in an article published in 1923. It reads as follows.

“Now, the only thought of every batter is to swing his hardest. The home-run germ has even hit the pitches. No longer do the batters seek to outguess the opposition, trip up the infield; the one big thought is a swing for the fences.”

Phrases Similar to Swing for the Fences

  • Go for broke.
  • Play for keeps.
  • Maximum effort, maximum reward.
  • Pull out all the stops.

Phrases Opposite to Swing for the Fences

  • Going through the motions.
  • There but don’t care.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Swing for the fences.
  • Swinging for the fences.

Ways People May Say Swing for the Fences Incorrectly

The phrase usually describes how a person will give a task their best effort. However, it also means that the person is willing to do so with a sense of reckless abandonment. So, using it to describe the act of “going through the motions” would be incorrect.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Swing for the Fences

You can use the phrase “swing for the fences” when you’re trying to motivate someone into giving their best performance. You can also use it yourself to describe how you will give a task your best effort. The phrase also means that you’re going to risk it all to get the result you want.

You can use “swing for the fences” in social and professional conversations. You could tell a colleague to swing for the fences with their next pitch at work because it’s the last day of the sales quarter. Or you could tell your son to swing for the fences at his baseball game when he steps up to the plate.

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