So I encountered this definition for an idiom "go on" but I've got troubles deciphering which is the correct meaning for the word in the definition.

This is a TFD def for "go on" 5. verb To proceed or persist. Can you believe that wisecracking kid went on to become a doctor?

So I think "went on" here means "proceed" but which of the definitions below for the word proceed fits here ? Also, the last example is from "Cambridge Dictionary" and on TFD there is no such meaning listed. Why ?

TFD def for "proceed"

  1. To go forward or onward, especially after an interruption; continue: proceeded to his destination; paused to clear her throat, then proceeded.
  2. To begin to carry on an action or a process: looked surprised, then proceeded to roar with laughter.
  3. (often foll by to) to advance or carry on, esp after stopping
  4. (often foll by with) to undertake and continue (something or to do something): he proceeded with his reading.
  5. to carry on or continue any action or process.
  6. to go on to do something.

This is a Cambridge def for "proceed" proceed to do sth to do something after you have done something else She sat down and proceeded to tell me about her skiing trip.

1 Answer 1


The word "proceed" doesn't fit well in the sentence

Can you believe that wisecracking kid went on to become a doctor?

There, "went on" means that the wisecracker continued with his life, over years and years, finally making something worthwhile of himself.

It's true that he did something after he did something else, but "went on to become", in that sense, is an idiom that isn't captured perfectly in a single-word synonym.

Merriam-Webster go on

1a : to continue on, or as if on, a journey
life goes on; went on to greater things

  • TFD def for "go on" 5. verb To proceed or persist.(To me proceed fits better than persist here is it the other way ?) Sep 14, 2021 at 11:00
  • I've added a definition from a dictionary that captures the meaning: to continue on a journey. Sep 14, 2021 at 11:20
  • Jack O'Flaherty you say that proceed doesn't fit in this sentence, but this is an example sentence for a definition of the phrasal verb "go on" which i copied from Thefreedictionary.com. So it's either "proceed" , "persist" or they are wrong. Are you saying that it's a mistake on their part ? Sep 16, 2021 at 19:39
  • I said it doesn't fit well. Proceed isn't impossible, but it doesn't capture the sense of the idiom. The words a dictionary offers in definitions aren't exact synonyms. If they were, we wouldn't need nearly so many words. Sep 17, 2021 at 5:38

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