My native language has a saying. Its literal translation would be:

"You have finally caught a mouse ever since you were a cat."

It is usually said when someone, who has never achieved anything although expected for a long time, has finally achieved in something important, or did a very good job or did exactly what is expected of him at a time when hopes were almost finished.

For instance, if a young man, working in his father's shop, has never managed to sell anything to any customer although he has been in the shop for months, and he has made a lot of mistakes, and his father's hopes have been diminishing, but someday he unexpectedly sells a very expensive product and brings good profit for the first time. So, the father can say this to show his happiness: "Son, you finally caught a mouse ever since you became a cat."

So, I wonder what would be an equiavelent saying for this saying in the English Language?.

2 Answers 2


There is a phrase Earn one's stripes which means "to do something which shows that one deserves to be accepted and respected by the other people in a field or profession." (MW)

It comes from the army, in which non-commissioned officers (corporals, sergeants) wear badges with strips to show their rank.

Well son, you did a good job today, and you've really earned your stripes.

Mary earned her stripes working as a researcher for a senator. She later became a successful politician.

Mark has been at the company for two months but he hasn't earnt his strips yet.

The cat metaphor is much more lively!


There are two or three phrase or sayings in BrE that might fit. Your shop keeper could say

You have finally made a breakthrough.

It means pretty much the same. You have done something that you have never done before.
But the closest in meaning to your native saying is probably the BrE saying

"The penny has finally dropped"

Which means that the person, for the first time, understands what they have been taught or read or how to do a particular task. For more on this one see this

There is also the phrases "A lightbulb moment" (beloved of cartoonists) or "A eureka moment" meaning you have suddenly understood something.

  • Yep, I like "breakthrough" for this meaning. The others are all about discoveries, rather than finally succeeding at something you've been trying to do for a long time.
    – gotube
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 8:39

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