Let's say a sports team puts in a lot of effort and as a result perform very well. You could say they have "-blank-ed themselves" as praise. I feel like the word is on the tip of my tongue but I can't think of it.

  • the effort they put in really paid off
    – wrymug
    Jun 29, 2018 at 20:58
  • It is interesting to me that my search for "outdone themselves" turned up results on ESPN while "acquitted themselves" turned up results on BBC sport. I wouldn't go so far as to claim this question ought to be tagged "British English" but there definitely seems to be a preference. Jun 30, 2018 at 14:50

4 Answers 4


Someone who does exceptionally well, particularly compared to their past performance can be said to have "outdone themselves"

We knew the importance and significance of this tournament, and credit must go to each and every individual. And also to all the management and backroom staff. They've all outdone themselves."

Source: ESPN


They have excelled (themselves):

transitive verb

: to be superior to : surpass in accomplishment or achievement

intransitive verb

: to be distinguishable by superiority : surpass others · excel in sports · excelled at lipreading

  • Please attribute correctly to comply with ELU guidelines and copyright laws. Jun 30, 2018 at 8:22

Ah! I just thought of it, acquit. “They acquitted themselves well.”


Stephen Robinson's side acquitted themselves well against the Scottish champions in November's League Cup final

Source: BBC Sport

Merriam Webster: To Acquit Oneself

  • 3
    Look more closely, folks.   This is not a “thank you answer”; the OP is not posting “thank you” as an answer.   This is an answer, PERIOD.   Then, parenthetically, the author thanks the people who participated; yes, that part should be edited out.   But this is an answer, and it should not be deleted. Jun 30, 2018 at 3:22
  • You need to add a linked and attributed supporting reference showing this sense of 'acquit', even though the answer is correct. ELU regulations. Jun 30, 2018 at 8:21

be a howling success TFD

To be extremely or triumphantly successful.

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