Put the best foot forward

Origin of: Put the best foot forward

Put the best foot forward

To put or set the best foot forward is to embark on a project with purpose and determination. This expression has been around since the 15th century. Strictly speaking, it should be the put or set the ‘better’ foot forward because only two are involved. Perhaps this is why Shakespeare uses this construction in King John (1595) Act IV, Scene II, “Nay, but make haste; the better foot before.” However, ‘best’ foot forward is first recorded in 1613 in a poem by Thomas Overbury A Wife, “He is still setting the best foot forward.”