Below Par

Meaning of “Below Par”

The phrase “below par” means beneath the normal or below the average capability or expectations or the set standard. In other words, the phrase “below par” means performance that is just average scores and numbers and is not up to the standard. The phrase is commonly used when a child underperforms in grades, and an employee doesn’t meet the set target given by the management.

Origin of Below Par”

The phrase “below par” is stated to have originated from financial transactions. Its first printed usage has been traced to a Scottish paper, The Caledonian Mercury, in its June 1720 publication. It states that it was first used as “under par” and again “below par” in its August publication in the same year. Since then, it has been used with the same meanings. The phrase is sometimes used with a hyphen as a single word ‘below-par’.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Above And Below Par by Leon S. White

When you say about a chap, that he’s above par
Exactly what it is you mean, depends on where you are.
If you’re on a golf course,  you’re referring to his score
Which relative to even par is at least one stroke more;
But in a different setting, above par means
Excellent, outstanding, even sterling genes.
So above par’s opposite is that which golfer’s seek
Otherwise below par is really rather weak.
However when below par play leads to an above par score
Then the seeming opposites are opposite no more.

The poem talks about the below performer and also someone who does an excellent job in the sport. The poem concludes that it depends on the circumstances of a person. It doesn’t matter if the person is in the golf course or some other setting. The poet expresses that if a sportsman’s performance is below par in one game, he or she will eventually reach above per. It means that failure is not permanent.

Example #2

Under Par by Thrice 

You set bar too high
Your expectations have become my failure
A shell you see so shallow but deep inside
My heart beats just the same as yours
The same blood through these clean veins

Can’t you see that I’m in pain
It seems my life is always under par
What can I say to change your mind about what I am
Others can see what was hidden from your sight
A kid with courage and heart and his eyes open wide
An inner beauty and a bright light
My focus is not yours

The song expresses the strong desire of the lover or the singer that his beloved should not set the standard of love and relationship too high. The opposite person can never meet the expectations of their beloved if they set high standards for physical appearance. The singer requests the partner to recall their childhood and look at the inner beauty. This means that instead of forcing her to raise her standard, he should allow her to be natural and focus on being good.

Example #3

The Nightingale’s Song by Robert Timberg

He learned to fly at Pensacola, though his performance was below par, at best good enough to get by. He liked flying but didn’t love it. What he loved was the kick-the-tire, start-the-fire, scarf-in-the-wind life of a naval aviator. There was an added attraction. Flying was something his father, a submariner, had never done, and he wants to be seen, for better or for worse and at almost all costs, as his own man, no Jack McCain’s kid.

In this book, Robert Timberg wrote about five well known American personalities who served in the US army. This paragraph is about John McCain, who became a pilot only to show his father that he could fly an aircraft. John’s flying skills were not up to the standards. However, according to the author, it was good enough because his father, Jack, didn’t fly an aircraft. Hence, he wouldn’t notice the lack of skills.

Example #4

The Song of the Rose by Colin Brown

Johnson flew to Bertangles with Joe in mid-afternoon, hoping to glean information from the two anti-balloon flights stationed there. Approaching the airfield, they almost collided with a Nieuport 16, which also appeared to be negotiating a landing – not without some difficulty. Black smoke gushed from an engine spinning very much below par, and even at a distance, they could see holes in the wings and body fabric. Barely controllable, it squirmed between trees and outbuildings, but to their surprise and relief finally accomplished a good landing in the middle of the field.

The above paragraph tells about Johnson, who is flying an old jet, Bertangles. He is nearing an airfield for landing at Nieuport, where another jet, is already trying to land. The phrase has been used for its engine that is not working. It also means that Johnson is likely to crash because of the faulty engine. However, they managed to land safely in the middle of the field.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “Due to the constant quarrel of her parents at home, Daisy’s performance is always below par.

Example #2: “If a person is not paying attention, his or her performance will be below par.”

Example #3: “Emmet was a below par actor in the 1980s. However, as he grew older, he became better and choose better characters. He’s a superstar now!”

Example #4: “I have always achieved my sales target, but this time it has been below par.”

Example #5: “If you have performed below par this time, don’t feel sad or discouraged.  he has not only performed below par but also failed in three exams.”