come a long way—make great progress; significantly improve over a period of time:
- Ideas about the educability of the masses have come a long way during the past 100 years.
go a long way—
1. = come a long way:
- Technology has gone a long way since the sixties both in diesel and gas engines.
Cf.: have a long way to go—be far short of some standard or achievement:
- Although we have got the vote, we women have a long way to go before we get a positive square deal.
2. (of a stock of provisions, money, etc.) be sufficient; last long:
- The more students a school has, the more funds it receives. So what money we get must go a long way.
3. notably assist in or promote smth.:
- The regular maintenance of your installation can go a long way towards reduced fuel bills.
Cf.: go some way—contribute to or assist in smth.:
- The study goes some way to explaining why some people burn more calories than others.
a) The expression is not antonymous in meaning to the phrase go back a long way—used of smth. that has been in existence for a long time:
- Wine making goes back a long way in countries like Egypt, Greece and France.
b) The expression does not correlate in meaning with the phrase go to great lengths—(also: go the extra mile) make an extra effort; try very hard to achieve a result:
- Personal appearance can be very important to some people. So much so, that they will go to great lengths to maintain a youthful look.