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It's Time for Your ‘Day in the Sun’


    And now, welcome to Words and Their Stories.

    On this show we explore words and expressions in American English. We sometimes explain where they come from. We give examples and notes on usage.

    Today we talk about that huge, burning star in the sky – the sun!

    If you spend all day out in the sun without proper protection, you might get sunburned. But other than that, spending time outdoors in the sun can be a wonderful thing. To feel the sun’s rays on your face can feel really good especially for those who have been inside for long periods of time.

    A family takes a photo as the sun rises in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. ((AP Photo/Heng Sinith))
    A family takes a photo as the sun rises in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. ((AP Photo/Heng Sinith))

    And that brings us to today’s expression -- to have your day in the sun. We use it a couple of different ways.

    When you have your day in the sun, you have achieved the highest possible level of success. You are at your peak. You are having a heyday. You are at your pinnacle or zenith of success. These words are all synonyms: They mean nearly the same.

    In terms of meaning a period of success, to have a day in the sun can be more specific. It can be a brief period of time when a person becomes very successful or popular compared to the rest of their otherwise not-very-successful or popular life. So, something new has happened to throw them into the spotlight, or rather … sunlight.

    Sometimes these periods of time are much shorter than a day. They last for only a moment. So, with this expression, you can also say “a moment in the sun.”

    For example, recently many people found their moment in the sun by sharing funny videos on YouTube or Tik Tok.

    Sometimes when we use this expression, we do not specify the amount of time. We simply say, “to have your time in the sun.” This usually means the person is young or successful.

    For example, once a young man was very successful as a music producer. He was so successful that many people became jealous. But he had worked hard for it. And now, it was simply his time in the sun.

    Now, let’s hear this expression used in a short conversation.

    Hey, did you hear the news? Clara is moving to Chicago! She just accepted a job as vice president for a Fortune 500 company.

    Wow! That IS big news! Good for her. She has been working hard for years now.

    She has. It’s time she had her moment in the sun.

    I think it’s going to be longer than a moment. She has always been very ambitious.

    Everyone should have their moment in the sun. American artist Andy Warhol famously said that everyone has 15 minutes of fame. Those 15 minutes would be their moments to shine. They would be their moments in the sun. I hope all of our listeners have their day in the sun.

    And that’s all the time we have for this Words and Their Stories. Until next time… I’m Anna Matteo.

    Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    ray n. one of the lines of light that you can see coming from an object

    peak – n. the highest level or degree of excellence, quantity, activity,

    heyday – n. the time when someone or something is most successful, popular, etc.

    pinnacle – n. the best or most important part of something : the point of greatest success or achievement

    zenith – n. the strongest or most successful period of time

    spotlight n. the area of light created by a spotlight

    jealous – adj. feeling or showing an unhappy or angry desire to have what someone else has

    conversation – n. an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people

    ambitious – adj. having a desire to be successful, powerful, or famous