success (n.)

1530s, "result, outcome," from Latin successus "an advance, a coming up; a good result, happy outcome," noun use of past participle of succedere "come after, follow after; go near to; come under; take the place of," also "go from under, mount up, ascend," hence "get on well, prosper, be victorious," from sub "next to, after" (see sub-) + cedere "go, move" (from PIE root *ked- "to go, yield"). Meaning "accomplishment of desired end" (good success) first recorded 1580s. Meaning "a thing or person which succeeds," especially in public, is from 1882.

The moral flabbiness born of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That — with the squalid interpretation put on the word success — is our national disease. [William James to H.G. Wells, Sept. 11, 1906]

Success story is attested from 1902. Among the French phrases reported by OED as in use in English late 19c. were succès d'estime "cordial reception given to a literary work out of respect rather than admiration" and succès de scandale "success (especially of a work of art) dependent upon its scandalous character."

Origin and meaning of success

updated on October 13, 2021

Definitions of success from WordNet

success (n.)
an event that accomplishes its intended purpose;
let's call heads a success and tails a failure
the election was a remarkable success for the Whigs
success (n.)
an attainment that is successful;
his success in the marathon was unexpected
his new play was a great success
success (n.)
a state of prosperity or fame;
he is enjoying great success
he does not consider wealth synonymous with success
success (n.)
a person with a record of successes;
if you want to be a success you have to dress like a success
Synonyms: achiever / winner / succeeder
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