Idiomatic Vocabulary 10: On Steroids

The Phrase

To be on steroids

Its Definition

An adjectival phrase meaning extremely developed when compared to something else.


Body builders take ‘steroids’ [a hormonal drug’] in order to develop abnormally large muscles. Similarly, when comparing a strong with a weak

form, we can consider the strong one ‘on steroids’. This is very idiomatic and descriptive (good), but not easy to use (bad). Try inventing some

comparison and seeing if you can make these phrase work for you.


Examiner:          Did you like Shanghai?

          Speaker:            In some ways. It’s sort of like Taipei on steroids.

Other Example Sentences

In IELTS Speaking

  • “My ambition has always been to climb Mount Everest, but basically the only thing I’ve done is ascend Yang Ming Shan – let’s call it Everest without steroids.”
  • “The chess player, Kasparov, played a computer called ‘Deeper Blue’ – which was, basically, just your average computer on steroids – and he lost the match.”
  • “The competition in schools in Taiwan is insane. It’s like a dog-eat-dog world on steroids. My teenage cousins, would you believe, are seeing psychiatrists due to the stress!”