Your Reputation Precedes You - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you about to meet someone new? Maybe it’s a colleague at work or a new friend. If you have co-workers or friends that told you good or bad things about the person, you could greet them with the phrase “your reputation precedes you.”

This post unpacks the origin and meaning of this idiom and when to use it in conversation.

Your Reputation Precedes You Idiom Meaning

Your reputation precedes you” is an idiom referring to the fact that the people you are meeting with already know everything about your reputation and what to expect.

The definition of the word “precede” means to come before other information. Someone’s reputation is the ideologies and expectations formulated around a person due to their past actions.

If someone says “your reputation precedes you,” they could be using the phrase in a positive or negative tone. In the positive use of the idiom, the people would expect nothing but good things from you. You could use the phrase at work or in social situations.

With the negative connotation of the term, the people saying the phrase would use it as a way to warn the other person that they are aware of their transgressions, and they are on the lookout for bad behavior or for you to slip up.

The phrase is more popular in a formal conversion, but it also has a lighthearted use. If you’re saying the term to others, it means that other people close to the person have already told you about their demeanor and character. Therefore, you know what to expect from communicating, working, or socializing with them.

The information you hear about the person could also be true or false. The reputation could also be unrealistic, forming high expectations around the person.

In many cases, reputations form around social gossip. You could be saying the phrase to draw more information out of the person, so they eliminate any negative or outlandish thoughts you have about them.

Your Reputation Precedes You Example Usage

“Welcome, John, your reputation precedes you; we’ve heard great things.”

Your reputation precedes you; we’re ready for any trouble you bring to the event.”

“We don’t really want you here, your reputation precedes you, and we don’t like troublemakers.”

“We’re happy to have you, your reputation precedes you, and we’re confident you can handle the job.”

Your Reputation Precedes You Idiom Origin

Your reputation precedes you” is a phrase from the mid-1900s. It’s still very popular in conversation today, and you probably hear it in use all the time in both positive and negative connotations. Language experts cannot pinpoint the exact origin of the phrase or where it appeared in the English language.

Phrases Similar to Your Reputation Precedes You

  • We’ve heard all about you.
  • People say good things about you.
  • Let’s hope you live up to the hype.

Phrases Opposite to Your Reputation Precedes You

  • You’re a blank slate.
  • We don’t know what to expect from you.
  • You’re starting from scratch.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Your reputation precedes you.

Ways People May Say Your Reputation Precedes You Incorrectly

Some people may use the phrase incorrectly, coming off as sounding pompous to the other person. Typically, the person saying the phrase will have some authority over the other person.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Your Reputation Precedes You

You can use “your reputation precedes you” in social and professional settings when you want to tell someone that you expect good or bad things from them. The phrase suits use when you’re confronting others about their past performance or actions. The phrase can have negative or positive connotations.

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