1. Giving something your maximum effort; going all out.
2. A baseball term that refers to a batter who wants to hit the ball as hard as possible.
The Origin Of ‘Swinging For The Fences’
The phrase ‘swing for the fences’ likely originates from the sport of baseball. How so? Well, there are fences along the edges of the outfield. If a batter hits the ball hard enough, the ball would fly over the fences, making it impossible for the defensive team to catch it. This would result in a homerun for the batter’s team. Hence, a player that is ‘swinging for the fences’ is hoping to hit a homerun, and that’s not an easy thing to do!
While this phrase was originally used in the context of baseball, it is now used in other contexts too for when someone is giving their maximum effort at something.
The earliest I could find this expression in print is in the first half of the 20th century. All the recordings I’ve seen for it at that time use the phrase in connection to baseball. For example, the Sandusky Star Journal newspaper, printed in 1923, reads:
“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 swing for the fences.”
- Jessica has been very busy this week and hasn’t had time to study for an upcoming school exam. Even so, she’ll be swinging for the fences and hoping for the best.
- The walls in Mike’s apartment are plain and boring; he wants to add some personality to his living space. So starting tomorrow, he plans to swing for the fences by purchasing several pictures for his walls.