TRIVIAL PURSUITS: From Where Did the Phrase Passed With Flying Colors Come?

To “pass with flying colors” means to be extremely successful, to achieve something that is difficult, to excel.

From where did the phrase “passed with flying colors” come?

It derives from when ships would return home with their “colors” (another word for flags) flying to show they had been victorious.

A ship that had been unsuccessful would take down its flags.