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Is "a far cry from" used for describing situations, in which someone is trying to achieve some result?

This phrase looks fine to me (though I am not sure):

He was a far cry from being a school champion in spelling.

But something doesn't sit right with this one (though I am not sure):

It wasn’t an easy task to get her talking to me in our short discussions, but she was a far cry from being idle when it came to teamwork.

Perhaps, it's wrong because being idle is not something to be achieved with a lot of effort. If so, then what would be the best idiomatic way to express the thought here?

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    A far cry from can be used in a very large number of contexts—including those in the question. – Jason Bassford Jun 25 '19 at 1:33
  • @JasonBassford - Thank you. This is an answer. You can re-write it as an answer. – brilliant Jun 25 '19 at 5:59
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The idiom "a far cry" is used to simply mean distant or perhaps opposite. A substitute idiom would be any that indicate this same meaning.

The use of "a far cry" in your example is correct. This idiom does not depend on any achievement, just distant/opposite from the truth of the matter. As to another idiom to use in your examples, the only one that comes to mind is "poles apart", but it is not necessarily a better choice.

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