What Does Put Your Best Foot Forward Mean?

Put Your Best Foot Forward Meaning

Definition: Try your hardest; try to make a good first impression.

Origin of Put Your Best Foot Forward

The exact origin of this expression is unclear.

Some sources speculate that it comes from starting a journey with one’s “best” foot. This could make sense because people often use this expression when someone is starting something new, although not always a literal journey. It is also unclear why the word “best” is used: humans only have two feet, making “better” a more appropriate word choice.

Shakespeare used the expression is his plays Titus Andronicuc and King John, but he changes it to better foot.

  • Nay, but make haste; the better foot before. –Shakespeare, King John

Another early use of the phrase is in Sir Thomas Overby’s Characters: A footeman (1613),

  • His legs are not matches, for he is still setting the best foot forward.

Some think that best/better foot refers to your right foot because the left foot was considered unlucky.

In any event, most sources put the origin date in the 15th or 16th centuries.

Examples of Put Your Best Foot Forward

put your best foot forward origin In the example below, two friends are discussing an interview that one of them has.

Ted: I’m so nervous about that job interview that I have tomorrow.

Rufio: Don’t worry. You’ve prepared for everything. You know all about the company, you’re qualified for the position, and you have a great outfit ready to wear to the interview. Put your best foot forward and try your best to be confident.

putting your best foot forward This dialogue shows two friends talking together about the new job one of them just got.

Zayna: I can’t believe I’m finally done with school! I haven’t had a job in so long. I’m worried I’m going to mess it up on my first day.

Ben: Well, you can’t control everything. And nothing will guarantee that you’ll be perfect right away. But don’t worry; because no one else was perfect right away either. All you can do is put your best foot forward and hope for the best.

More Examples

The excerpt below uses the expression to describe the hard work of a hockey player.

  • “He’s giving it his best, working extremely hard. Very professional, works real hard in the gym and he’s trying to put his best foot forward, and we’ve got to figure out where that is on our team.” –New York Daily News

This excerpt is about a new dancing show.

  • The network is putting it’s best foot forward with “World of Dance” (May 30, 10 p.m.) which serves up “the best dancers in the world” going toe-to-toe in a ballroom smackdown for the biggest pile of prize money in hoofing history. –New York Daily News

Summary

The idiom put your best foot forward means lead with your best effort.

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