The idiom is also an example of a simile. It compares someone’s speed to the speed at which the wind blows. It suggests that someone is running quite quickly if they’re running “like the wind.” The idiom dates back to at least the time of the Roman poet Virgil who used a variation of it in his Aeneid.
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Meaning of “Run like the wind”
“Run like the wind” is an easy-to-comprehend idiom. When used, one person is describing how fast someone is moving.
If you tell someone that they’re running “like the wind,” it means they’re running very quickly. Often, it also refers to how easily they accomplish that movement as well. The idiom is a good example of how similes come into common speech. This phrase is very well-known. It is perhaps the most common simile used in everyday conversations. Meaning, it’s a comparison between two things using “like” or “as.” In this case, “like.” You’re saying that one person is running “like” the wind but not that they “are” the wind. (The latter is an example of a metaphor.)
It’s unclear where exactly “run like the wind” originated. Some have suggested that it dates back to horse racing but a clear first use, or even first appearance in print, isn’t certain. This is far from unusual for idioms and proverbs. They often evolve naturally over time, with no one remembering who the first person was who used it. For example, this phrase, in variation, dates back to at least the time of Virgil’s Aeneid. In this famous text, he wrote “swifter than the winds.”
Today, the phrase may also be used in a different form than it was in the past. For example, some idioms have a long history in which they started off with different words or a different phrasing than their contemporary version.
When to Use “Run like the wind”
It’s possible to use “run like the wind” in a wide variety of situations. The phrase could be used among friends or family members. Even close colleagues might use it at work when they’re encouraging one another to move quickly. While often the phrase is actually used to describe running, it can also be used, slightly differently, to describe motion in general. For example, “work like the wind” or “think like the wind.” Both of these are less common examples of how the “wind” is used as a way of defining speed and efficiency. It’s easy to see how the latter two phrases might be used in a work environment.
Good opportunities to use “run like the wind” include races, children’s games, and during exercise. One friend might tell the other to “run like the wind” before the start of an important race. Another might use “run like the wind” to describe how fast a child moved across the art while playing with her friends. For instance, “She ran like the wind from one side of the yard to the other.”
It’s unlikely that you’re going to find an opportunity to use “run like the wind” in a work environment. There are very few possible situations in which one might use this phrase with a boss or formal colleague.
- Run like the wind, son!
- If you don’t run like the wind you’re not going to make it in time.
- She ran like the wind and made it to school with a minute to spare.
- Only running like the wind is going to get us there before sundown.
- We ran like the wind back to the trailhead after thinking we saw a bear.
- I shouted, “run like the wind,” at her when she ran by us.
Why Do Writers Use “Run like the wind?”
Writers use “run like the wind” in the same way and for the same reasons that it’s used in everyday conversations. The phrase could appear in a dialogue between two characters who are discussing an upcoming race or are contemplating how fast one of them is going to have to run to win it. One friend might use the phrase when describing another’s movements or projecting how fast someone else is going to run. Consider, for example, a scene in which the main characters are walking down the street, and the narrator comments that someone “ran like the wind by them and around the corner.” This could lead to numerous other events such as an impending disaster, robbery, and more.
People use “run like the wind” when they want to encourage someone to run faster or to describe how fast someone did run. It could also be used in the form of a question.
It’s unclear where exactly this phrase originated, but it dates back to at least Virgil’s Aeneid between 29 and 19 BC. In this iteration, it read as “swifter than the winds.” So, the phrase clearly evolved over time into the version we use today.
“Run like the wind” is an example of a simile. It uses “like” to compare two, unlike things, running and the wind. If you run quickly, you can be described as running as fast as the wind.