Something has legs is a newer idiom with an uncertain origin. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom something has legs, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.
When something has legs, it has longevity or staying-power. When something has legs,it will be around for a long time; it will endure and it will be successful. For instance, a popular play that continues to sell out its seating may be considered to have legs. A book that becomes a long-term best seller has legs. A news story, an advertising campaign, or gossip may have legs. The expression something has legs came into use in the 1980s and is based on the imagery of something that can carry itself forward on its legs. Related phrases are have legs, had legs, having legs.
And companies feeding into the housing market appear to believe the U.S. housing recovery has legs. (Barron’s)
And, with Rebecca’s background as a marketing and community support professional (and Ron’s as a collateral-duty public affair officer in the Marines in both war and peace) ramping up a film festival right there in Beaufort “was an idea that ‘had legs,’” they were told. (Daily Commercial)
Matt Le Blanc’s spin-off series Joey had legs (2004-2006), so did his sitcom, Episodes (2011 – 2017), and he too branched out – as co-host of Top Gear (2016-2019) and executive producer/star of another comedy series, Man with a Plan (2016-2020). (The Morning Bulletin)