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I heard the phrase in a couple of songs, e.g.

Miley Cyrus's Midnight Sky:

I was born to run, I don't belong to anyone.

Imagine Dragons' Whatever It Takes:

I was born to run, I was born for this.

What does the phrase mean?

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  • "To do great things in life, probably greater than what they are presently doing". Sep 21, 2020 at 14:55

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Born to [whatever], means your nature is predisposed to [whatever]. Born to lead means you are a natural leader. Born to teach means you're a natural teacher.

As a general rule, Born to Run is used metaphorically. It means there exists a wildness to your nature (i.e. to run wild). Imagine Dragons and M. Cyrus most likely take the born to run phrase from Bruce Springsteen's much earlier Tramps like us, Baby, we were born to run. Meaning to be wild. To get into trouble. To disobey the rules of authority. And of course, to be sexually promiscuous.

Of course if one were to say Usain Bolt was born to run they would mean that literally.

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“was born to/for X” is an idiom meaning that X is the person’s purpose in life, or that all of one’s past experiences have prepared them to/for X.

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