Can someone please explain to me what the bolded sentence means in the following passage

Anyone who’s been to Sonic knows what unmet expectations feel like. If you’re a small business owner, you’ve probably come to hate the verb “expect” more than any other. Customers have a whole lot of dreams about what you can deliver, and it’s all too easy to come up short when someone has their eyes to the sky.

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    Without knowing fully where that quote is from, and assuming it's talking about the large US fast-food franchise, "Sonic", it seems to be saying that smaller businesses have a hard time living up the expectations of customers that are used to the customer satisfaction offered by large chains. The "eyes to the sky" means that they're expectations are high. Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 18:40
  • But what is the meaning for" to come up short" here? Does it mean "to fail"?
    – Soudabeh
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 19:05
  • Yes, to "come up short" means to fail in fulfilling the customers' expectations. Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 19:17
  • Although Kristina's explanation about "eyes to the sky" is correct, you should know that this isn't, to my knowledge, a standard English phrase. It actually sounds rather odd to me.
    – user124384
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 19:17
  • "Come up short" doesn't necessarily mean to fail completely though: it implies that you did partially fulfill some of their expectations, but not fully.
    – user124384
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 19:19

2 Answers 2


The bolded phrase means it's easy to fail to meet high expectations.

When someone has their "eyes to the sky" they are expecting a lot, and when that happens it's easy to "come up short" or "fall short of" or "fail to meet" those high expectations.


It's hard to keep your nose to the grindstone, your ducks in a row, and your feet on the ground when your head is in the clouds. Just sayin.

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