首頁 > Stories behind Idioms
作者: Grace Tse
Before aeroplanes were invented, people dreamed of being able to fly like birds. Many brave inventors thought of different ways to fly high in the sky. However, many experiments failed until the Wright brothers invented the world’s first successful aeroplane in the 19th century.
We can say a thing like an aeroplane which flies high in the air is a “high-flyer”.
The engineers were pleased that they had successfully designed an aeroplane to be a powerful high-flyer（高空飛行器）.
On the other hand, “high-flyer” can be used as an idiom. A high-flyer is a person who has a lot of ability to be very successful in his or her career.
Jack is a young high-flyer（有抱負的人）in information technology industry.
The origin of the idiom is related to a Greek（希臘）myth. A wicked king asked an architect to build a maze to keep his terrible monster in. Later, the king’s enemy invaded the maze, killed the monster and took away the king’s daughter. The king was very angry and imprisoned the architect and his son Icarus in the maze he had designed, which was on an island surrounded by water. The clever architect made two pairs of wings for himself and Icarus. He stuck feathers onto a wooden frame with wax. Before they escaped, the architect told Icarus not to fly too near the sun because the heat would melt the wax.
Icarus got too excited and forgot his father’s warning. He flew higher and higher in the sky. Can you imagine what happened next? The heat of the sun melted the wax and the feathers dropped to the sea. When Icarus realised the danger, it was too late. He fell into the sea and died.
The idiom “high-flyer”（好高騖遠）was first used with a negative meaning in the 16th century to describe someone who aimed too high beyond their talents.
In the English language, “high-flyer” and “high-flier” are interchangeable, though the former is more common. We may also change this idiom into an adjective “high-flying” to describe a person who is successful in his or her career.
She has a high-flying（有抱負的）businessman husband.
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