Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

English expression what you're made of

Have you ever heard somebody say the phrase “show them what you’re made of”?

Is this one of those phrases that shows up often in conversation in English?

You may wonder what this means and you likely want to know how to use it properly.

We’re going to show you what a phrase like this means, others just like it, and how to use them in conversation.


Breaking Down This Phrase and How To Use It

You’ve probably heard this phrase “what you’re made of” before.

What does this phrase mean?

This phrase really means to show who you really are and what you’re all about.

This may be about a talent, about your character or personality, or about something that is specific or unique about you.

It’s often used to talk about athleticism–when someone is doing a really great job!

For example, this could be when an **underdog** (bonus word) is losing and then works really hard and wins in the end.

You might hear something like “Wow he really worked hard to overcome his injury and he sure showed them what he’s made of when he won the game for the team!”


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It Indicates Hard Work or Perseverance

You might hear this phrase used in several different situations.

You might hear it when an athlete does a move that she is famous for.

It may be that an athlete gets a slam dunk or throws a touchdown pass.

It may be something related to overcoming a struggle, an injury, or just demonstrating hard work and dedication.

Here are a few examples that help to demonstrate how you might use this phrase in conversation.

  • “I thought they were going to lose but then Roberts pulled out this amazing move and stomped all over the competition. He showed them what he’s made of for sure.”
  • “Okay guys, we’re in the final 30 seconds. I know we can do this. Alright, let’s get out there and show ‘em (pronunciation)* what we’re made of.”
  • “I know it’s scary but remember last game? You showed them what you’re made of then and you can do it again now.”

It always shows that there was a great outcome and often the ability to overcome some sort of adversity.


It’s A Common Way To Indicate Some Sort of Victory

Another way to think about this phrase is that somebody is pulling out greatness at key moments.

This phrase can of course be used in other scenarios.

Why do you think it’s used so frequently in sports?

It’s ultimately about showing confidence, and perhaps about scaring or surprising your opponent a little bit.

So much of sports is about attitude and skill, so it’s natural and fitting that you might use this phrase. 

There are a couple of similar phrases you can use to mean the same sort of thing.

  • Show ’em who’s boss: It’s an informal phrase that you hear used in conversation often. It means the same thing, but helps the person to reiterate that they are in charge of their destiny.
    • “Don’t forget to show em who’s boss when you get out there.”
  • Give em a taste of their own medicine: It’s another way to tell somebody to show them what you’ve got. It may be slightly different and used in a more aggressive way. It may be indicated to show revenge, so just be careful of tone when you use this.
    • “Yeah he made that shot but now get out there and give him a taste of his own medicine.”


Some Related Lessons To Keep In Mind

When you think of athletes getting excited before a big game, there are some great lessons to take from that.

This isn’t just about being athletic, but getting in touch with being the best you can be.

Consider this because you can use these life lessons in many different areas of your life.

Some great lessons to apply to your life include:

  1. You have to work well under pressure.
  2. Work hard, don’t back down, and always give it your all. 
  3. Have the confidence to match your skills and that will always push you to the top.
  4. The effort you put in will always show through in your performance.



There are many life lessons to take from this one phrase.

“Showing them what you are made of” is all about being the best that you can possibly be.

This is about trying your best and working hard to overcome adversity.

When you can put that into play, you can be proud of your performance and determination.

This is a great way to excel at something and to make important connections along the way.


If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 

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