- For Teachers
Can I use 'to steal someone's thunder' in this situation;
Amy was invited to her friend's house for a birthday bash. Mary was the birthday girl and was supposed to be the centre of attention. However, when Amie arrived at Mary's in her red and elegant-looking dress, everyone was looking at her with sparkling eyes. She looked stunning and fetching that everyone was trying to spend time with her. She certainly stole Mary's thunder on that night.
This response is from a non-professional teacher.
In my opinion, you are using the phrase in question to signify that the one girl is stealing the lime light from the birthday girl. It seems to me that the two phrases are identical in meaning in your sentence. I see no reason why you could not correctly construct your sentence as you did.
In my opinion, to steal sy's thunder connotes the idea of unfairness.
As far as I can tell there was a man in the past who worked in a theatre and made a thunder machine for one of his plays. The thunder machine could make similar sounds to that of a thunder. Others stole his idea and used in other plays.
This is the idiom I would use:
Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press
To "steal someone's thunder" does not necessarily imply something unfair.
It can mean that you have said something which the other person wanted to say in a conversation such as:
Two friends were at a political rally and had just listened to an important speech. The conversation could go like this:
"After I heard XYZ speak, I wanted to get up and dispute his theories, but John, you were faster at the microphone, and you stole my thunder."
The expression could also be "You took the wind out of my sails" meaning that the point has been made, you've said what I would have, and I can't add anything to it.
I am not a teacher.
P.S. on edit. As far as the original post goes, I think using the expression "stole the limelight" is more appropriate than "stealing thunder".
I agree that "stole the limelight" is far better than "stole her thunder."
I am familiar with "stealing thunder" as making an announcement/giving out information before someone else, when that someone else had planned to be the person who would say/announce it. When that someone else said it, it would have been impressive, important - and come with a "bang" (metaphorical of course).