I am looking for synonyms as single words having the meaning of 'being one step ahead of others'.

  • 2
    lead·ing adj. 1. Having a position in the lead; foremost: the leading candidate. thefreedictionary.com/leading
    – Kris
    Commented Jun 7, 2014 at 7:20
  • The "game" of "being one step ahead of others" is called one-upmanship. You buy a Cadillac, so I buy a Mercedes; you buy a Bentley, so I buy a Mazzeratti (the one priced at a million dollars!), etc. Commented Jun 7, 2014 at 17:35
  • It's not clear what meaning you are looking for. Literally one step ahead, as in walking/running? One step ahead in a process? Or simply being more advanced in a quantitative way? Commented May 1, 2015 at 1:22

9 Answers 9


Pacesetter is a common term for someone who is in the position you describe.

pace·set·ter noun \ˈpās-ˌse-tər\ : a person who runs ahead of the other runners in a race in order to set a pace

as in, a company that has been a pacesetter in its field for offering health care benefits to employees



"Innovator" (or "innovative"), "pioneering", "scout", "trailblazer", "vanguard", or "visionary", depending upon usage.


One such description is frontrunner — or frontrunning, if you prefer the adjectival form.

  • Per meta.english.stackexchange.com/a/364 for the use–mention distinction, please use an italic face not a bold one. It makes the page look too heavy otherwise, and furthermore runs counter to typographic convention both on this site and in scholarly works.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 14:39
  • @tchrist sorry but I smiled :) (not in a bad way!)
    – red-o-alf
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 15:25

You could say be a notch above the others and be superior (to others).

notch above (someone or something) and a notch better (than someone or something): a little higher in quality than someone or something

superior: of high or higher quality; great or greater in amount, number, or degree; better than other people

be one step ahead : to be slightly better prepared or more successful than someone else (usually + of) Source

  • similar, a cut above.
    – red-o-alf
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 15:26

Advanced suggests the meaning you are looking for:

being at a higher level than others.

I also suggest the useful expression: to be a cut above something or somebody:

to be better than other things or people: he is so smart that he is always a cut above all his friends. Our new luxury apartments are a cut above the rest.


Also consider the phrase early adopter, which means:

A person who begins using a product or service at or around the time it becomes available.

The phrase early adopter sometimes is used to describe people who are ahead of the curve. Ahead of the curve is an idiom for “Changing before competitors” or “in the forefront of change”.

Another related phrase is “on the bleeding edge”, which means using “Something very current or modern, where there may actually be a hazard or risk in using it”.


Greed. People who have to be ahead of others have an inadequate personal self concept and are not content just being themselves--so they greddily seek more attention from others

  • 1
    This is reading way too much into the situation compared to what the question is actually asking....
    – Hellion
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 21:51

Prescient is what came to my mind immediately.

From oxford:

Having or showing knowledge of events before they take place: a prescient warning

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    Hi Tapioca, that's a great word! Can you provide a dictionary definition for that to assist the OP and other users of this site?
    – Erich
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 0:47

I think the word perspicacious is a good fit.

: of acute mental vision or discernment : KEEN

As some of the nation’s most perspicacious observers have noted, self-regulation is a crucial component of fixing what’s wrong with social media. —Gilad Edelman, Wired, 30 Sep. 2021

Other words that might highlight the sense of relative farsightedness (including the word farsighted itself) are:


: of keen and farsighted penetration and judgment

… the winner is praised for his sagacious grasp of the hopes and anxieties of the public, the loser is excoriated for the many and obvious blunders that derailed his candidacy … —Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker, 18 Dec. 2000

I think the example sentence above wonderfully encapsulates the idea of being a step ahead of one’s competitors, too.


: having or showing foresight or good judgment : SAGACIOUS a farsighted leader

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