‘Run Like The Wind’: Definition, Meaning and Examples

By Sophia Merton, updated on May 30, 2023

Did someone say that you need to 'run like the wind," and you’re wondering what it means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the meaning, origin, examples, and more.

In short:

  • 'Run like the wind' is an idiom that means to move quickly or run very fast.

What Does 'Run Like the Wind" Mean?

The phrase ‘run like the wind’ means to run very fast or move very quickly. While ‘run like the wind’ is an idiom, it’s also an example of a simile because it compares the speed at which a person is running to the speed at that the wind blows.

  • 'Run like the wind' is a simile because it compares two unlike things.
  • Similes often use 'like' or 'as' to provide this comparison.
  • Metaphors make a comparison by saying that two unlike are the same thing.

If someone tells you that you 'run like the wind,' it means that you're very fast indeed! This is a very common idiom that you will hear used in everyday conversations.

The phrase 'like the wind' is used on its own to describe something that moves at high speed. Alternatively, comparing something to the wind in this way could mean that its mysterious, invisible, or unpredictable or that its changeable and moving freely.

Where Does 'Run Like the Wind" Come From?

It isn't precisely clear when the idiom 'run like the wind' first emerged, but the concept of describing someone's speed by comparing it to the wind is quite old.

We find evidence of this as far back as the Roman poet Virgil's Aeneid, which describes (through translation, of course) someone as moving "swifter than the winds." This concept is repeated in a number of later writings.

  • A Biblical expression that you don't typically hear in everyday speech these days is 'on the wings of the wind,' which appears twice in the Book of Psalms and is referenced in a number of later writings.

'Run Like the Wind' in Print

Using the Google Books Ngram Viewer, we see that 'run like the wind' and 'like the wind' have both been in use since at least the 1800s.

We find an early example of this phrase in print published in The Analectic Magazine from 1817:

"The crew were for getting rid of those visitors by force of arms; but the captain reasoned like the fox in the swarm of flies; and it was soon discovered, too, that, while the natives had learned to run like the wind over the sand, those who had not been accustomed to such a terra infirma could make scarely any head-way at all."

Another instance of the phrase appears in a poem published in The Universal Songster from 1826:

And now, with regard to the game,

Of what to prefer I will sing,--

First, the birds I will name;--

The turkies are strong on the wing;

But be not to your shooting confined,

A hen will much pleasure produce,

Sucking pigs can run like the wind,

And the best of all shots is a goose.

Instances of 'Like the Wind' in Print

'Like the wind' appears to be even more common in print, historically, than 'run like the wind.' An example of the use of this phrase in order to describe the swiftness of something appears in the 1808 text Christian Baptism by William White:

"But Mr. E. denies this, he says it was mere sound that filled the house, a mere echo; but this is not true; it is not said, "a mighty wind-- a sound," filled the house; but the Holy Ghost; who, as a sound, like a might wind, he in his coming rushed like the wind for its swiftness, and sounded like a mighty wind that creates dread in those that hear its roar."

Going back much further, we also find a use of 'like the wind' in Homer's The Illiad:

"The second to his lord in love and fame,

In peace his friend, and partner of the war)

The winged coursers harness'd to the car:

Xanthus and Balius, of immortal breed,

Sprung from the wind, and like the wind in speed;

Whom the wing'd Harpys, swift Podarge, bore,

By Zephyr pregnant on the breezy shore."

Examples of 'Run Like the Wind" In Sentences

How would 'run like the wind" be used in a sentence?

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • "My mother has always been so quick. I can hardly keep up even though I'm twenty years younger. I swear, she can run like the wind."
  • "I'm not trying to beat a dead horse, but I can't believe how well Sally did in the soccer game. She can really run like the wind!"
  • We've got to get home and pack our bags-- otherwise, we're going to miss our flight. It's time to run like the wind!"
  • "Jennifer isn't just beautiful and smart. She's also incredibly athletic. Be careful ever agreeing to go on a jog with her-- she can run like the wind."
  • "Did you hear what John said about Timmy? He said that despite the fact that he moves so slowly when he walks, he can actually run like the wind when he wants to."

Other Ways to Say 'Run Like the Wind"

What are some other idioms that have a similar meaning to 'run like the wind"?

Here are some options:

  • Run like the devil
  • Like a bat out of hell
  • Hightail it
  • With lightning speed
  • In a flash
  • Swift as the wind
  • Quick as lightning

Final Thoughts About 'Run Like the Wind"

'Run like the wind' is a simile and an idiom that is used to describe someone moving very quickly.

  • You can use it to describe someone that actually runs very fast or to express the need to move swiftly in a situation.

Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Be sure to check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia Merton is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is passionate about reading, writing, and the written word. Her goal is to help everyone, whether native English speaker or not, learn how to write and speak with perfect English.

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