Beaten to the punch?

中国日报网 2016-10-28 11:56



Beaten to the punch?Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: “I was in the middle of putting this very same report together but was beaten to the punch.” What does “beaten to the punch” mean exactly?

My comments:

Someone else published the report first, that’s all.

“I”, the speaker was writing a similar report, but someone else got the report out first. If it were a competition, our speaker would’ve lost the contest.

Beaten to the punch, you see, is originally a sporting term, from boxing obviously. In boxing, two fighters are there to hit (punch) each other with their fists. And if one boxer is able to consistently beat the other to the punch, it means he (or she) always seems to land a hit first, and therefore, is the better boxer, being faster and more agile.

Similarly in a 100 meters dash, the runner who beats all others to the finish line wins the race.

In short, if people are doing something with a common goal, the one who reaches the goal first is said to have beaten others to it, it being the common goal.

Or any shared objective, for that matter. In researching for this article, for example, I come across a story about Donald Trump beating his daughter Ivanka to the punch in announcing the birth of her son. Donald being Donald, he made sure he came out first in announcing the boy’s birth.

Donald Trump is “a winner”, you know, as the Republican presidential candidate constantly reminds us. Donald…. well, never mind, here’s a bit of detail (Dad Saves Ivanka Trump The Trouble Of Announcing Baby News, by Holly Williams,, October 15, 2013):

You can always trust dad to steal your thunder on your big day! Ivanka Trump is beaten to the punch as father Donald unveils baby news over Twitter.

The model and heiress gave birth to her second child on October 14th 2013, a baby boy, which entrepreneur father Donald Trump was quick to share with his 2 million followers on Twitter. “My beautiful daughter Ivanka just had a healthy baby boy. Jared [Kushner] and Ivanka are very proud!” He wrote, before later adding, “Thanks to all for the wonderful congratulation sent to me on the birth of Ivanka’s little boy - so nice!”

An hour later, Ivanka emerged herself, Tweeting, ‘We just welcomed a beautiful & healthy son into the world. Jared, Arabella and I couldn’t be happier!’ It’s unclear whether or not she was aware her father had a head start on her, but she probably has other things on her mind with a brand new baby to look after.

See the point? All right, here are more media examples of people beating others or getting beaten to the punch:

1. Next year, we will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, and the 150th of the publication of his On The Origin of Species, which revolutionised our understanding of biology.

But what if Darwin was beaten to the punch? Approximately 1,000 years before the British naturalist published his theory of evolution, a scientist working in Baghdad was thinking along similar lines.

In the Book of Animals, abu Uthman al-Jahith (781-869), an intellectual of East African descent, was the first to speculate on the influence of the environment on species. He wrote: “Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.”

There is no doubt that it qualifies as a theory of natural selection - even though the Book of Animals appears to have been based to a large extent on folklore rather than on zoological fact.

Despite the strong feelings Darwin provokes among many Muslims - many Islamic scholars see the Koran as creationist, and so at odds with evolution - it seems astounding that al-Jahith’s quote has been largely ignored.

- Science: Islam’s forgotten geniuses,, January 29, 2008.

2. We’ve seen numerous car manufacturers and tech companies make noise about their plans to launch autonomous vehicles in the near future, including Tesla, Google, Ford and BMW. But it looks like Uber will beat them to the punch in bringing self-driving technology to consumers.

Bloomberg reports that Uber will roll out a small number of modified self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs from its 100-vehicle fleet in downtown Pittsburgh later this month. But you’ll still be in the back seat, as each car will have a human supervisor behind the wheel.

Passengers in Pittsburgh will be assigned these vehicles at random, and won’t be charged a fee for their trips. CEO Travis Kalanick believes that this initiative will drive ride costs down and increase safety in the long run.

There will also be a co-pilot in the front passenger seat to take notes about each trip; Every car will also have a tablet in the back seat to notify passengers that they’re in an autonomous vehicle and to explain the ongoing program.

- Uber is rolling out self-driving cabs this month, August 18, 2016.

3. Tyson Fury has vacated his WBO and WBA world heavyweight titles effective immediately to “fully focus on his medical treatment and recovery.”

The boxer found himself at the centre of a controversy a fortnight ago after admitting to having “done lots of cocaine” in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Fury faced the prospect of having his licence removed – which would have led to being stripped of his belts – by the British Boxing Board of Control on Wednesday (12 October), but he managed to beat them to the punch by making his move first.

The 28-year-old recently pulled out of his bout against Wladimir Klitschko for a second time after being declared “medically unfit” last month. Fury has not fought since beating the Ukrainian in November 2015.

Explaining his decision, Fury said in a statement: “I feel that it is only fair and right and for the good of boxing to keep the titles active and allow the other contenders to fight for the vacant belts that I proudly won and held as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world when I defeated the long-standing champion Wladimir Klitschko.”

- Tyson Fury vacates WBO and WBA world heavyweight titles,, October 13, 2016.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

上一篇 : On the bubble?
下一篇 : Hot button remarks?



















关于我们 | 联系方式 | 招聘信息

Copyright by All rights reserved. None of this material may be used for any commercial or public use. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. 版权声明:本网站所刊登的中国日报网英语点津内容,版权属中国日报网所有,未经协议授权,禁止下载使用。 欢迎愿意与本网站合作的单位或个人与我们联系。