I found this expression in a book I'm reading, and I'm having trouble understanding it:

All the superstars I’ve known have heaping helpings of drive and they’ll continually hound people to further their careers.

What does "heaping helpings of drive" mean in this context?

  • 5
    It sounds very unnatural and may be a mistake/typo. "Heaped helpings" would be slightly better, implying a big helping. I'm guessing it's not from a native speaker, or possibly they meant to say "heaped" but were confused by the "ping" ending in the following word.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 25 at 10:52
  • 7
    @StuartF "Heaping" is the usual idiom I've heard.
    – Mary
    Commented Mar 25 at 11:50
  • 8
    @StuartF I think this is a BrEng vs AmEng distinction. I'm BrEng and I'd say "heaped" as well, but I've heard AmEng say "heaping" in the same sense.
    – Vicky
    Commented Mar 25 at 12:34
  • 3
    @Vicky - it is a Am.Eng vs Br.Eng distinction. I've heard Americans talk about "heaping tablespoons". In the UK we say "heaped tablespoons", never "heaping", which sounds very odd.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Mar 25 at 13:19
  • 4
    @gidds I think of "a heaping tablespoon of flour" as similar to "a towering stack of paper". Once I have "heaped" the material into a large pile, it is now "heaping" in that it embodies that physical form. (As I write this, I wonder whether there is a corresponding Br/Am difference for "towering" versus "towered"...)
    – Tashus
    Commented Mar 25 at 16:26

1 Answer 1


It's a metaphor, derived from a meal where you choose how much to take from the dish.

Someone goes to a salad bar, and the portion that this person takes is a helping. If he takes a lot, it will heap up on the plate.

Thus a "heaping helping" of drive is a lot of drive.

  • 12
    +1, but this answer would be better if it explained that "drive" in this context (which might sound like a verb) is a synonym for motivation, enthusiasm, or persistence.
    – Vicky
    Commented Mar 25 at 12:35
  • +1. google.com/…
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 25 at 21:21
  • 1
    A huge thank you for that. I was still a little lost, but now it all makes sense.
    – Itamar
    Commented Mar 26 at 5:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .