What Does Up to Par Mean?

Up to Par Meaning

Definition: Meeting the standards.

Synonymous expressions include up to scratch and up to snuff.

Origin of Up to Par

This idiom originated in the 1800s and gained widespread popularity in the 1900s.

Some sources say that the expression comes from the sport of golf. In golf, par refers to the number of strokes (hits with a golf club) that a golfer should take to get the ball into the hole. The golfer should try to meet that number of strokes, or get the ball into the hole in fewer strokes. Therefore a person who couldn’t meet accomplish that wouldn’t be up to par.

This explanation seems to be the most likely, as similar expressions come from the sport of golf, namely, par for the course.

Other sources, however, speculate, that the expression has nothing to do with golf. Rather, it comes from the Latin word for equal, and means up to the average or standard.

Examples of Up to Par

what is up to parIn the dialogue below, two friends are discussing the dance class that one of them wants to take.

Tina: I heard that you are taking tango lessons. How’s that going?

Keanu: Well, so far, it’s great! There’s only one problem.

Tina: What’s that?

Keanu: I feel like I’ve mastered the beginning level. I really want to join the intermediate class, but my teacher says I’m not ready. When I asked for more details, she just said I’m not quite up to par. She says my footwork still needs more practice.

Tina: Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll meet the requirements for the intermediate level soon.

be up to parIn this example, one friend is discussing a problem he has with his pet dog.

Jonah: I’m so glad that you suggested doggie daycare for my puppy. It seems to help her a lot. She’s a lot calmer now.

Tatiana: That’s great! Did it solve all of her behavior problems?

Jonah: Not quite. It helped quite a bit, but she’s not totally up to par. She’s still not completely house trained, and she still barks too much. However, I think if I keep working hard on her training, she’ll reach an acceptable level of good behavior.

More Examples

This excerpt is about an outdated zoo.

  • A golden lion tamarin washes from a fenced exhibit at the Santa Ana Zoo on Thursday June 9, 2017. The zoo recently lost its Association of Zoos & Aquariums accreditation because its monkey exhibits are not up to par. –OC Register

The second example is about improving the quality of roads in California.

  • Jerry Brown, the leading proponent of the plan, says the money is essential in order to bring the state’s roads up to par and that the tax hikes bring those levies in line with what they were 30 years ago when adjusted for inflation. –OC Register

Summary

The phrase up to par means satisfactory or at an acceptable level of quality.