I wonder what does mean an idiom (if it is an idiom, of course) "taking the high road"?


1 Answer 1


Meaning… to take the moral 'high ground'. A superior position, from which to win an argument.

Can be compared to being 'on one's high horse' meaning to take a moral stance on something.

Taking the high road is usually used by the defendant of that 'high ground' as their reason for their stance.

Being on one's high horse is usually a derogatory term used by the one still 'standing on the firm ground' of reason.

edit: I feel the need to add the old song lyric… "You take the high road & I'll take the low road,
& I'll be in Scotland before you…"

Ref: The Bonnie Banks o Loch Lomond - Which raises as many questions as it may answer

  • Basically right, but I don't know the military connection. I think it may come from the same usage of "high" as "highway": the most direct and open path, as opposed to being sneaky and devious and skulking through the underbrush. Nov 30, 2014 at 8:38
  • Also, interestingly The Pilgrim's Progress, a 17th century work which is 100% allegory, uses the term "highway" to describe the path the protagonist, who represents the Christian soul, takes towards God. And book does do the obvious allegorical thing of having there be branches off the road which represent temptation, because they are not so steep and narrow as the righteous path. So it's completely ambiguous whether it means "highway" as in "main road" or "high way" as in "the path of righteousness". Nov 30, 2014 at 8:44
  • You have a point, there. I think I'll trash my opening line, as it was just speculation. Thanks. Nov 30, 2014 at 8:46

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