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X is very clever, even the cleverest in the class, so sharp-mouthed that no one can beat him in speaking. He makes all silent. One day, a new man Y enters the class and makes even X silent. A student wants to say: Even the most powerful can come across someone more powerful than them. What is the idiom? I tried my best but couldn't find any.

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  • [make someone silent is not idiomatic. make someone be silent, make someone keep quiet]
    – Lambie
    Mar 14 at 14:39
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    Sharp-mouthed (or, more usually, sharp-tongued) doesn't mean eloquent or clever, it means sarcastic or prone to criticising. Mar 15 at 13:04
  • "to meet one's match" is another possible idiom. In the sense of meeting someone who is as good or better at doing something.
    – Billy Kerr
    Mar 15 at 16:37
  • Was also thinking "met their match". "clash of titans" is close, but implies they are more equals.
    – Error_2646
    Mar 15 at 18:56
  • Is the example purely invented, or a translation of a recognised idiom from another language… and if so what and from which? Mar 15 at 21:44

5 Answers 5

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There is always a bigger fish.

See this video showing a scene from Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in which Qui-Gon Jinn uses the phrase to refer to a similar situation:

Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are in a small submarine. A big fish is pursuing them. Finally the big fish catches up to them and tries to eat their submarine. The big fish has the submarine in its jaws and is about to swallow it! Suddenly, a huge fish appears and eats the big fish, and the submarine escapes. Qui-Gon Jinn says: "There is always a bigger fish."

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The phrase to meet your match is possible though it is wider and includes as good as you too.

If you meet your match, you find that you are competing or fighting against someone who you cannot beat because they are as good as you, or better than you.

The idiom meet one's Waterloo is more exact:

idiom: to be defeated

X met his Waterloo.

X has met his Waterloo.

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    Someone's Waterloo is their defeat, not necessary a single adversary who defeats them. Specifically, the Duke of Wellington is often highlighted as the nemesis of Napoleon at Waterloo, but you don't call someone who overpowers you your Wellington.
    – tripleee
    Mar 15 at 13:18
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I would say that X "was a big fish in a little pond".

This idiom implies that he is powerful in his environment, but would be weak in another environment, i.e. another pond with much larger fish.

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/a+big+fish+in+a+small+pond

Hope this helped!

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    But this emphasizes a potential intrusion of someone with more skill, the situation as it is before the other person entered class.
    – Joachim
    Mar 15 at 8:34
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To reduce the stature of a highly regarded individual can be described as knocking them off their high horse or taking them down a peg. It implies that there is someone at "the top" who is humbled in some way. It may not necessarily connote "defeat" in some kind of head-to-head competition, but does indicate that someone else got the advantage over the person usually in charge in a way that breaks routine. It may not indicate that the other person is in all aspects better or will be the new person at the top, but is more restricted to a particular interaction.

Here, saying that Y knocked X off their high horse, or that Y took X down a peg, implies both that X is usually at the top, and that Y bested them. They also connote that X is in some way "put in their place" by the defeat, faced with the evidence that they are not actually the best.

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I was going to suggest something very similar: "Big fish in little pond becomes small fish in big pond."

Movies, like the above referenced "Start Wars"; are a great source. I think another apt, and more nuanced example that could apply here is, "There can be only one." This is the main theme of the classic film HIGHLANDER. A great science fiction story about being the best; taken about as far as it can go.

And my favorite: "Death; taxes; and someone better, bigger, smarter, stronger"

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