I have read the following sentence in a site where English is the language required to post.

Sass/Compass             Complete Sass/Compass integration using best practices for Drupal/Sass. The Zen team has developed over the span of a year with blood, sweat and tears, but you can leap frog the pain by using what we've learned.

CSS                              If you're not ready for Sass yet, Zen still includes a full set of well-documented CSS files. Sass integration adds zero overhead, so if you simply ignore all of Zen's Sass, your site performance isn't penalized. No worries!

(I didn't respect the original format, since the linked page uses a HTML table.)

Looking at the NOAD, I get the following definitions for leapfrog:

  • Surpass or overtake another to move into a leading or dominant position
  • Pass over (a stage or obstacle)

In the first case, the verb is not used with an object, but it is used as in the following sentence:

She leapfrogged into a sales position.

In the second case, the verb requires an object, and it is used as in the following sentence:

She attempted to leapfrog the barriers of class.

Is idiomatic to say "leapfrog the pain"? Can leapfrog be used in a more extended way than the way shown by the dictionary?

  • If used as a verb, you should it write it as one word, leapfrog.
    – Martha
    Aug 11, 2013 at 20:27
  • I quoted what I read on Internet. The dictionary shows the verb is leapfrog, not leap frog, and I would write leapfrog.
    – apaderno
    Oct 7, 2013 at 23:44

2 Answers 2


It's the second meaning in use here, that is:

Pass over (a stage or obstacle)

In this case, the "stage or obstacle" is the "pain" involved in the learning curve. The sentence is essentially saying:

It was a lot of work the past year, but, if you learn from what we've learned, it might not necessarily take you a full year to accomplish the same thing.

where the authors have elected to shorten "hassle of learning" with the single word "pain."

The phrase "leapfrog the pain" isn't necessarily idiomatic, but, in this case, pain isn't much different from barriers (at least not syntactically).

That said, the phrase "blood, sweat and tears" is very idiomatic, and it means "a tremendous amount of hard work and effort." It's important in this sentence, because it helps the reader understand what pain is referring to.

  • I would have expected to read "you can leapfrog the creation of a good theme"; I get the pain means the pain of creating a good theme, but saying the pain sounds like saying a glass of wine, where you replace the container for the content. (In this case, Zen is merely the name of Drupal theme, not anything related to philosphy. :))
    – apaderno
    Aug 11, 2013 at 22:05
  • @kia: No, I think I'd say, "you can leapfrog to the creation of a good theme." To get to someplace good in a hurry, you leapfrog to (or into) it. When avoiding something painful, you just leapfrog it (or maybe leapfrog over it, but I think over is implied in many usages). Ribbit :^)
    – J.R.
    Aug 11, 2013 at 23:33
  • I was imagining that creating a good theme is something painful, I avoid it, so I leapfrog it. ("I leapfrog the creation of a good theme.") I see that leapfrog the pain is not much different from leapfrog the barriers of class, since in both the cases there isn't anything physical to pass over. "Cra cra," replied the Italian frog.
    – apaderno
    Aug 11, 2013 at 23:53
  • 1
    @kia: In the context of this sentence, creating a good theme is only painful if you don't use the lessons learned from the author's experience. In the author's context, you don't want to "leapfrog" the creation of a good theme, but you DO want to "leapfrog" the creation of a good theme the hard way.
    – J.R.
    Aug 12, 2013 at 8:25

No, it's not idiomatic. "Leapfrog" implies that you are in competition with someone (or something) else toward some goal. With pain, you are not in competition with the pain for a third thing; your are fighting against the pain.

It also has a meaning of "pass over", but this only applies in certain circumstances where a goal in sight.

I would say "but you can avoid the pain"—or rephrase the sentence as "but you don't have to go through this pain yourself if you use what we've learned".

Update: Another word that could be used to replace "leapfrog" in this sentence is "bypass".

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