For some students, success in school means getting As and Bs. For others, it means getting straight As, starring in the school play, and winning the class election. Success means achieving a goal, and everyone's goals are different.

We tend to think of success as a triumph or victory, but if you look at its linguistic roots in Latin, success literally just means "result." At some point several centuries ago people probably began using success as shorthand for "good success," and eventually they dropped the good altogether. That would explain why in formal settings you still occasionally hear the phrase "good success," even though we now think of all successes as good.

Definitions of success

n an event that accomplishes its intended purpose

“let's call heads a success and tails a failure”
“the election was a remarkable success for the Whigs”
an event that does not accomplish its intended purpose
show 15 types...
hide 15 types...
an impressively successful event
a successful journey
triumph, victory
a successful ending of a struggle or contest
(angling) an instance of a fish taking the bait
a victory (as in a race or other competition)
fall, pin
when a wrestler's shoulders are forced to the mat
the successful ending of the American Revolution
an overwhelming electoral victory
last laugh
ultimate success achieved after a near failure (inspired by the saying `he laughs best who laughs last')
Pyrrhic victory
a victory that is won by incurring terrible losses
slam, sweep
winning all or all but one of the tricks in bridge
complete victory
blowout, laugher, romp, runaway, shoo-in, walkaway
an easy victory
service break
a tennis game won on the opponent's service
walk-in, waltz
an assured victory (especially in an election)
Type of:
happening, natural event, occurrence, occurrent
an event that happens

n an attainment that is successful

“his success in the marathon was unexpected”
“his new play was a great success
show 27 types...
hide 27 types...
succeeding with great difficulty
bang, hit, smash, smasher, strike
a conspicuous success
bell ringer, bull's eye, home run, mark
something that exactly succeeds in achieving its goal
success in mastering something difficult
a brilliant and notable success
flying colors, flying colours
complete success
pass, passing, qualifying
success in satisfying a test or requirement
overturn, upset
an improbable and unexpected victory
conquest, seduction
an act of winning the love or sexual favor of someone
the act of scoring in a game or sport
the successful action of solving a problem
blockbuster, megahit, smash hit
an unusually successful hit with widespread popularity and huge sales (especially a movie or play or recording or novel)
an unexpected hit
bull's eye
in target shooting: a score made by hitting the center of the target
a successful attempt at scoring
strike, ten-strike
a score in tenpins: knocking down all ten with the first ball
a score in tenpins; knocking down all ten after rolling two balls
break, open frame
any frame in which a bowler fails to make a strike or spare
a score in American football; a player is tackled behind his own goal line
a score in American football; being in possession of the ball across the opponents' goal line
field goal
a score in American football; a score made by kicking the ball between the opponents' goal posts
a successful free throw or try for point after a touchdown
run, tally
a score in baseball made by a runner touching all four bases safely
basket, field goal
a score in basketball made by throwing the ball through the hoop
hat trick
(sports) three consecutive scores by one player or three scores in one game (as in cricket or ice hockey etc.)
break, break of serve
(tennis) a score consisting of winning a game when your opponent was serving
a score that makes the match even
Type of:
the act of achieving an aim

n a state of prosperity or fame

“he is enjoying great success
“he does not consider wealth synonymous with success
lack of success
big time
the highest level of an occupation (especially in entertainment)
pay dirt
a profitable success
Type of:
prosperity, successfulness
the condition of prospering; having good fortune

n a person with a record of successes

“if you want to be a success you have to dress like a success”
achiever, succeeder, winner
failure, loser, nonstarter, unsuccessful person
a person with a record of failing; someone who loses consistently
show 5 types...
hide 5 types...
first lady
the leading woman in an art or profession
a person who has achieved distinction and honor in some field
highflier, highflyer
a person of great ability and ambition
someone regarded as certain to succeed
an unexpected achiever of success
Type of:
individual, mortal, person, somebody, someone, soul
a human being

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.