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Meaning of “A Feather in His Cap” phrase of Idiom, definition and synonyms use in sentence.

A Feather in His Cap

“He wore a feather in his cap, and wagged it too often.” FULLER: Church History (1655).

“That’s a feather in your cap!” we are ant to say to anyone who has accomplished any great feat—or physical endurance, like swimming the Channel, scaling the Himalayas, or flying across continents; of mental prowess, like gaining a scholar-ship, composing an epic poem, or painting a sunset. When Joseph Chamberlain was once taunted in the House of Commons with being the author of the South African War, he sarcastically retorted, as he adjusted his monocle: “Then, I shall consider it as a feather in my cap.” In olden times, to “shake (or wag) the feather” signified haughtiness, or defiance (see Shakespeare, III Henry VI, “. . . if Warwick shake his bells”).

A Chinese mandarin; a Tyrolean peasant; an Indian maharajah, equally with a Prince of Wales in full ceremonial dress, each wears “a feather in his cap.” The origin of this quaint custom dates back to antiquity, and is a sign of honourable victory in a personal encounter. If the triumph was of extraordinary valour, the feather was fixed on the topmost point of the head-dress. Hence the phrase “to be in high feather,” signifying elation about a great achievement. This has been the practice for ages past among American Indians; only they have added an eagle’s feather for every enemy vanquished. Thus, to be “in full feather” means to be at a high pitch of efficiency. Old Hungarian tradition permitted a man to wear a feather in his cap only if he had slain a Turk.

“That’s a feather in my cap!” the Black Prince may have remarked at Crecy, as he picked up the crest of John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, who fell that day, and adopted it as his own. “That’s a feather in your cap!” we may imagine the Chinese Emperor saying to General Gordon, as he invested him with the Order of the Yellow Jacket and Peacock Feather, for having suppressed the Taiping rebellion. For all deeds of derring-do, in the field of common daily toil, as on the field of slaughter, we can say “‘That’s a feather in your cap!”


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