Learn English – What does a “meteoric rise” imply


Does the phrase "meteoric rise" connote that the rise is short-lived? Particularly bright? Generally lateral?

It just seems like a meteor is not the best metaphor for a triumphant and lasting ascendancy.

Best Answer

Not necessarily short-lived, however this definition does include brevity

Similar to a meteor in speed, brilliance, or brevity: a meteoric rise to fame.

And here's a discussion on this with a counterpoint:

its use certainly bothers Guy Keleny, as he explains in The Independent’s Errors and Omissions column:

“Meteoric” has acquired a meaning almost opposite to the one it started out with. The writer… describing the company’s rise as meteoric, meant to convey that it has been swift and spectacular. But meteors do not rise; they fall. They blaze briefly in the night sky and as quickly disappear. So a meteoric career is one of spectacular success followed by sudden oblivion.

I’m not so sure. Meteors travel very fast indeed (albeit downwards) thus perhaps justifying the use of ’meteoric’ in the phrase ‘meteoric rise’. And the Oxford Dictionary of English happily allows that one definition of ‘meteoric’ is ‘very rapid’.