Understanding the Idiom: "put on a pedestal" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
  • cherish, glorify, idealize, idolize, revere, worship

When we admire someone or something greatly, we tend to elevate them to a higher status in our minds. This is where the idiom “put on a pedestal” comes into play. It refers to the act of placing someone or something on an imaginary pedestal, as if they are above everyone else.

This idiom can be used in various contexts, such as relationships, sports, and even politics. When we put someone on a pedestal in a relationship, for example, we idealize them and ignore their flaws. In sports, fans may put their favorite athlete on a pedestal and expect them to always perform at their best. Politicians may also be put on pedestals by their supporters who see them as saviors of society.

However, putting someone or something on a pedestal can have negative consequences. It can lead to disappointment when that person or thing fails to meet our expectations. It can also create unrealistic standards that are impossible to maintain.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “put on a pedestal”

The idiom “put on a pedestal” is commonly used in English to describe the act of placing someone or something in an elevated position, often with excessive admiration or reverence. While its exact origins are unclear, the phrase likely dates back to ancient times when statues of gods and goddesses were placed on pedestals as a symbol of their divinity.

Throughout history, the concept of elevating individuals or objects to a higher status has been prevalent in many cultures. In Ancient Greece, for example, athletes who won Olympic events were often celebrated and revered by society. Similarly, during the Renaissance period in Europe, artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were highly esteemed for their creative talents.

Over time, however, the act of putting someone on a pedestal has come to be associated with negative connotations as well. It can lead to unrealistic expectations and disappointment when that person fails to live up to their perceived perfection.

Despite these potential drawbacks, the idiom remains widely used today in various contexts ranging from personal relationships to politics and celebrity culture. Its historical context serves as a reminder of humanity’s long-standing fascination with greatness and our tendency towards idolizing those we admire.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “put on a pedestal”

When we say that someone has been “put on a pedestal”, we mean that they have been elevated to a position of great admiration or respect. This idiom is often used to describe how we view celebrities, politicians, or other public figures who are seen as role models or heroes.

However, the usage of this idiom can vary depending on the context in which it is used. For example, it can be used to describe how an individual is treated by their peers or colleagues in a workplace setting. In this case, being put on a pedestal may lead to feelings of isolation or pressure to maintain an idealized image.

Another variation of this idiom is when it is used in romantic relationships. When one partner puts the other on a pedestal, they may place unrealistic expectations on them and become disappointed when they fail to meet those expectations.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “put on a pedestal”

When we admire someone to an extreme degree, we often say that they are being “put on a pedestal”. This idiom is used to describe the act of placing someone in a position of great respect or admiration. But what other words can we use to express this idea? And what are some opposite expressions that convey the opposite meaning?

Synonyms for “putting someone on a pedestal” include phrases like “idolizing”, “worshiping”, and “idealizing”. These words all suggest that we hold someone in very high regard and view them as almost perfect. Other synonyms might include terms like “glorifying”, “exalting”, or even just plain old-fashioned adoration.

On the other hand, antonyms for this idiom would be words that suggest putting someone down or treating them with less respect than they deserve. For example, you could say that you are criticizing or belittling someone instead of putting them on a pedestal. Other antonyms might include terms like disrespecting, dishonoring, disparaging or insulting.

Finally, it’s worth noting that different cultures may have different idioms and expressions related to this concept. In some countries, people might talk about putting someone on a throne instead of a pedestal; in others they might use metaphors related to sports (e.g., placing someone at the top of their game). Understanding these cultural nuances can help us communicate more effectively with people from different backgrounds.

Practical Exercises for Elevating Someone to a Higher Status

Firstly, try writing a heartfelt letter or note expressing your appreciation for the person’s qualities and achievements. Use strong language and vivid descriptions to convey your admiration. You could also include specific examples of how they have inspired or helped you in the past.

Secondly, consider organizing an event or gathering in honor of the person. This could be as simple as hosting a dinner party or as elaborate as planning an awards ceremony. The key is to make it clear that this event is all about celebrating their accomplishments and contributions.

Thirdly, take the time to listen actively when the person speaks. Show genuine interest in what they have to say by asking thoughtful questions and responding with empathy. By doing so, you demonstrate that their opinions matter and that you value their perspective.

Finally, try incorporating small gestures into your daily interactions with the person. For example, bring them coffee or tea when they’re working late or offer to run errands for them if they’re feeling overwhelmed. These acts of kindness may seem small but can go a long way towards making someone feel valued and appreciated.

By practicing these exercises regularly, you can put someone on a pedestal without resorting to unrealistic expectations or idealization. Instead, you’ll be showing genuine respect and admiration for who they are and what they’ve accomplished – something that everyone deserves from time to time!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “put on a pedestal”

Mistake #1: Using it too often

One of the most common mistakes people make when using the idiom “put on a pedestal” is overusing it. This can happen when you use it to describe every person who you admire or respect. It’s important to remember that not everyone deserves to be put on a pedestal, and doing so can actually diminish their accomplishments.

Mistake #2: Ignoring flaws

Another mistake people make when using this idiom is ignoring the flaws of the person they are putting on a pedestal. Everyone has flaws, even those who have accomplished great things. By ignoring these flaws, you risk creating an unrealistic image of that person in your mind.

  • Avoid idealizing someone without considering their weaknesses.
  • Remember that no one is perfect.
  • Be realistic about your expectations of others.


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