“Run to Ground”: More Than Just a Chase

When we hear “run to ground”, we might picture someone scrambling into a hole, disappearing from sight. Luckily, this idiom isn’t quite so literal! It carries a fascinating history and has a broader meaning than a simple chase.

What Does “Run to Ground” Mean?

This expression originates from hunting, where dogs would chase prey like foxes until the animal was forced to hide in its burrow, or “run to ground”. Today, the idiom means to track down, locate, or uncover something (or someone), often after a long and determined search.

When to Use “Run to Ground”

Here are common scenarios where “run to ground” fits perfectly:

  • Investigations: “The detectives worked tirelessly to run to ground the suspect.”
  • Research: “I finally ran to ground the source of that unusual quote.”
  • Problem-Solving: “There’s an annoying leak in the attic – let’s run to ground the cause.”

The idiom also implies exposing hidden information:

  • Uncovering Secrets: “The journalist’s investigation ran to ground a network of corruption.”

When NOT to Use “Run to Ground”

Avoid this idiom in these situations:

  • Literal Chases: Don’t use it when someone is actually running and disappears into the ground.
  • Sensitive Situations: Be mindful in discussions of serious personal struggles. The idiom might sound flippant.

The Language of Idioms

“Run to ground” offers a colorful and expressive way to talk about pursuit, discovery, and revealing what’s hidden. Understanding idioms like this one enriches your understanding of the English language and gives you new tools to communicate effectively.


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<a href="https://englishpluspodcast.com/author/dannyballanowner/" target="_self">Danny Ballan</a>

Danny Ballan


Danny is a podcaster, teacher, and writer. He worked in educational technology for over a decade. He creates daily podcasts, online courses, educational videos, educational games, and he also writes poetry, novels and music.

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