Created on 14 July 2013
Idiom
Steal someone's thunder
Meaning
To do what someone else was going to do before they do it, especially if it takes praise or recognition away from them. It can also mean to take someone’s ideas and use them for your own advantage or to take credit for someone else’s work.
Origin
For centuries, theatre productions tried to find a good method to produce the sound of thunder. In 1704, an unsuccessful playwright, John Dennis, invented a new method of creating the sound of thunder for his play, Appius and Virginia. The play flopped and was closed down but shortly afterwards, a production of Macbeth started in the same theatre using the very same method of creating thunder. It is reported that Dennis went to the theatre to watch a performance of Macbeth and when he saw that they were using his technique, he said, “Damn them! They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder.” This is how the phrase originated.
Examples

“You have to stop stealing my thunder! Every time I tell that I'm going to do something, you do it first and you always get the recognition!”

“I think you should stop telling Jane your ideas. I just heard her speaking to the boss and she was telling him the idea you told us yesterday. She always steals your thunder!”

“I can't believe Lucy just stole my thunder! I just announced that I passed my exam and Lucy came in and told everyone she was pregnant!”

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