1. Giving something your maximum effort; going all out.
Example: The Miami Heat are swinging for the fences in this final quarter, but I’m not sure if it will be enough for them to win.
2. A baseball term that refers to a batter who wants to hit the ball as hard as possible.
Example: Their best batting player is stepping up to the plate and I think he’s gonna want to swing for the fences here because his team is in need of a run.
Synonyms / Similar Idioms:
1. Go for broke
2. Play for keeps
3. Pull out all the stops
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 busy all 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.
- Liam wants to add some personality to his living space; he’s tired of being surrounded by plain white walls. To fix this, he is going to swing for the fences tomorrow by purchasing several decorative pictures.
- You may have won the race, but next time I’ll be playing for keeps!
- My chess opponent was no slouch; I had to pull out all the stops to best him.
Tip: If you are done reading about this phrase, there are plenty more common phrases and sayings on here to explore! We have a list of expressions that you can browse through; simply scroll to the top and choose a letter from the menu to get started.