It is from Crash Course Meadia Literacy. It is at around 5 minute and 2 second. Here is the context:

This one can be a pretty low bar to clear. As we know, our mind loves to accept the easiest to understand info as the right info because it is convenient. Which is why we move onto accuracy.

As the Urban Dictionary says low bar means a very low standard, but what confuses me is the word clear. Does the host mean that it is a pretty low bar to get rid of?

1 Answer 1


This is a metaphor from track and field—specifically jumping events. In high jumps and pole vaults a 'bar' is moved progressively higher and the jumper must 'clear' it: jump over it without touching it (or at least not making enough contact to knock it down). See Collins, definitions 16 and 18:

  1. adjective

    If something or someone is clear of something else, it is not touching it or is a safe distance away from it.

    As soon as he was clear of the terminal building he looked round. [+ of]
    She placed a towel on a cluster of rocks just clear of the tidemark.
    He lifted him clear of the deck with one arm.

18 verb

If an animal or person clears an object or clears a certain height, they jump over the object, or over something that height, without touching it.

He was the first vaulter to clear 6.00 metres.

A low bar to clear is thus an easy obstacle to jump over.

  • 1
    A minor quibble as one who frequently brushed the bar and then watched anxiously as it quivered. Touching is allowed - as long as the bar remains in place. Jun 30, 2018 at 12:32
  • It may be worth noting that Google Books claims over 1400 instances of the sequence a pretty low bar. My guess is that almost all of them will be for this same (metaphorical) sense, but less than 10% are followed by to clear. That's to say, I think the true "idiomatic" element that learners might struggle with is low bar - and the optional "clarifying" element to clear shouldn't represent a problem on the semantic front (if anything, it should only make the idiom more "transparent"). Jun 30, 2018 at 13:22
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers You'd think, and so would I . . . but in this case OP is specifically confused by clear. Jun 30, 2018 at 13:27
  • Indeed. And had you not already posted this answer, I'd have been tempted to closevote for lack of research while adding a comment link to the relevant dictionary definition. Perhaps that's a bit harsh, but the metaphorical aspect of low bar here seems so obvious I find it hard to imagine that OP could be aware of the effective meaning without recognising the figurative / etymological background (which should therefore make it easy to identify the relevant sense of to clear). Jun 30, 2018 at 13:36
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers So what you're saying is that you consider the research for this question to be a pretty low bar…
    – Weaver
    Jul 1, 2018 at 3:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .