to set the bar

Idiom Definition

"to set the bar"

to establish a level of competence or an expectation

Idiom Definition - to set the bar



Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - to set the bar

Two mothers are talking about their children ...

Mother 1:  How is your son doing in school?

Mother 2:  Alright, I suppose.  His average score is around 85%.

Mother 1:  And 85% is only 'Alright'?

Mother 2:  Yes, I told my son that he needs to get at least a 90% average.

Mother 1:  You have set the bar fairly high.

Mother 2:  Yes, I have very high expectations for my boy.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - to set the bar

Two managers are talking about a new employee that the company has just hired ...

Manager 1:  How's the new guy doing.

Manager 2:  He seems to be doing OK.  I'll be happy if he just survives his first week on the job.

Manager 1:  You've set the bar pretty low, haven't you?

Manager 2:  Past practice has shown me not to expect too much in the first week.

to set the bar - Usage:


to set the bar - Gerund Form:

Setting the bar too high can cause a person to become apathetic because the task seems impossible.

to set the bar - Examples:

1)  I set the bar before starting major projects.

2)  You set the bar high for your children.

3)  He sets the bar for all new employees.

4)  She sets the bar when new shoe stores open.

5)  The big TV company set the bar for its competition by introducing a 3D TV.

6)  We set the bar at the top before playoffs.

7)  You (all) set the bar too low for your friends.

8)  They set the bar in the middle when it comes to expectations of new management.

9)  These iconic spaces set the bar high, and give neighborhoods in their respective cities something to shoot for.

10)  This list is just what I need to aim high and set the bar higher if need be. 

11)  Truly, this event has set the bar... unfathomably high.

12)  Apple set the bar for tablet prices, and still other companies still can't compete feature for feature.

13)  Who gives me the right to set the bar? Each woman knows her own medical conditions, health, and individual needs.

14)  I don't set the bar for what is OK for others. I can only do that for myself.

15)  You'll set the bar high and they'll be motivated to live up to their reputation as a leader.

16) Apple has set the bar for magical technology and the iPhone 5 failed to impress. 

17)  One strategy for arguing that something does not exist is to set the bar for its existence extremely high.

18)  We've set the bar so low for human decency we have to quibble about what constitutes bullying.

19)  He wanted a new outlook on life and set the bar high. He smashed his goals and inspired coworkers and family members to follow!

20)  Don't set the bar too high in your expectations of others or you will become a bitter old misanthrope.