Posted by: Jack Henry | February 26, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Spot-on

Dear Editrix,

I know what “spot-on” means, but where did it come from?


Interested in Indiana

Dear Interested,

Excellent question! This phrase is British and means “exactly correct,” “exactly right,” or “perfectly correct.” For example, “Your directions to the opera house were spot-on,” or “Bucky’s impression of Captain America is spot-on—even his stance is the same!”

As far as where the phrase comes from, well that seems to be much more difficult to find an answer for. I found one website that says it is a British military term, but then they don’t really explain where it came from, so I say “Pshaw! No explanation, no air time for you!”

Here is something I found on Anglophenia, a website from BBC America. I don’t know how accurate it is, but it sounds like a good story!

Spot On

So, let’s start with a game. Billiards, to be precise, which came from colonial India. Unlike pool, once you’ve potted the red ball, it must be returned to its starting position, which is the spot where the black ball goes in a game of snooker. So, the phrase spot on evolved, as a simple expression of extreme accuracy. This then was applied to other aspects of life, and found to be a fairly decent way to convey delight and support.

Spots On!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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