Idiom: a feather in one’s cap

Meaning of “A feather in one’s cap“:
- A symbol of honour and achievement.

Usage of “A feather in one’s cap“:
- It’s always a feather in your cap if you manage to put one over the champions. “Neil won’t need me to tell him the team can be strengthened in certain areas … (The Sun – Apr 18, 2012).
- “That’s really a feather in your cap if you can get to Boston. You don’t have to do much when you get there but just enjoy it. You’ve earned your medal just … (Greensboro News & Record (blog) – Apr 15, 2012).
- It’s one of the premiere 2-year-old sales in the country and it’s somewhat a feather in your cap,” said Dunne, who with his wife, Amy, came to Ocala in 1995 … (Ocala (blog) – Apr 10, 2012).

Origin of “A feather in one’s cap“:
- The phrase is believed to have derived from the general custom in some cultures, of a warrior adding a new feather to their head-gear for every enemy slain, or in other cases from the custom of establishing the success of a hunter as being the first to bag a game bird by the plucking of the feathers of that prey and placing them in the hat band. The phrase today has altered to a more peaceful allusion, where it is used to refer to any laudable success or achievement by an individual that may help that person in the future.
- Examples of the use of feathers related to the killing of enemy combatants can be found in the traditional cultures of the Meunitarris of Alberta; and the Mandan people (present-day North and South Dakota) both of whom wore feathers in their headdress: and also the Caufirs of Cabul who are said to have stuck a feather in their turban for every enemy slain.
- The figurative use of the phrase ‘a feather in his hat’ was in use in the UK by the 18th century; for example, in a letter from the Duchess of Portland to a Miss Collingwood, in 1734:

“My Lord … esteems it a feather in his hat, that …”

The children’s rhyme Yankee Doodle is the best known use of the phrase.

Yankee Doodle went to town,
Riding on a pony;
He stuck a feather in his cap,
And called it macaroni.