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What Does it Mean to Have Your "Feet on the Ground"?

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  • Written By: A.M. Boyle
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 27 June 2014
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The phrase, “to have your feet on the ground,” can have several connotations. It can indicate that a person is realistic and practical. Similarly, the expression can refer to someone who is very down to earth and genuine. It can also signify someone who is self-confident. Sometimes, taken in another, more negative context, it can suggest that a person is stubborn or unyielding.

This phrase is an example of an idiom. An idiom is a term or expression that holds an alternate meaning than what the words literally suggest. When people say that an individual has his or her feet on the ground, they do not necessarily mean that the person described is standing at a spot with both feet on the pavement or grass. Rather, it suggests other characteristics about that person.

Quite often, to have your feet on the ground means that a person is sensible and levelheaded about things. It suggests that a person's thoughts and actions are anchored in reality as opposed to someone whose ideas are not viable or overly idealistic. A person described as having his or her feet on the ground is often considered to be pragmatic in his or her approach to life. Taken in the negative sense, this could also suggest that the person is actually boring or dowdy and not much of a risk taker.

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Along those same lines, a person who is considered to be self-assured and assertive might also be described as having both feet on the ground. The phrase, in this context, could suggest that a person seems confident and secure in whatever he or she does. In this regard, it can be a compliment. Taken to the extreme, it can have negative implications, however, suggesting that the person is overconfident or too opinionated.

In other instances, to say someone has his or her feet on the ground indicates that the person is down to earth and authentic. It could indicate that the person does not pretend to be someone he or she is not. This type of person is realistic about who he or she is and doesn’t come across as a phony trying to impress others with attitudes and platitudes.

Sometimes, depending upon the context, to have your feet on the ground is not considered a good thing. This turn of phrase can be used to describe someone who is stubborn in his or her opinion and not willing to move. It can suggest that a person has his or her feet planted a little too firmly in one spot and, right or wrong, is not budging from his or her position about a particular matter.

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