dark horse

noun

Definition of dark horse

1a : a usually little known contender (such as a racehorse) that makes an unexpectedly good showing
b : an entrant in a contest that is judged unlikely to succeed
2 : a political candidate unexpectedly nominated usually as a compromise between factions

Examples of dark horse in a Sentence

The Democrat from Utah has gone from being a dark horse to the front-runner in the campaign for President. The movie is a dark horse for the award. He is a dark horse, but I did find out that he once played football professionally.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Daniel Rapaport: Pardon my calling a 12-time Grand Slam champion a dark horse, but that's exactly what Novak Djokovic is right now. The Si Staff, SI.com, "Wimbledon 2018 Preview Roundtable: Predictions, Dark Horses, More," 29 June 2018 Microsoft Microsoft could be the dark horse here: CEO Satya Nadella has shown a flair for the dramatic big-money buy: think of the $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub this summer, or the $27 billion buyout of LinkedIn in 2016. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Who could buy Discord? Acquirers have been giving the gaming startup a long look.," 21 Nov. 2018 Political hustle: Stavis is this cycle’s dark horse. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Ten big Silicon Valley money players behind this November’s U.S. midterm elections," 20 Aug. 2018 Prior to the tournament, an armchair pundit or two may have labelled them the 'dark horse', or a team who could 'surprise a few'. SI.com, "Pride and Passion: Croatia's Unrelenting Fighting Spirit Continues to Carry National Hope," 12 July 2018 There were are no dark horses in this Final Four matchup. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Final Four preview: No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 1 Kansas — keys to victory," 25 Mar. 2018 Chiang was once seen as the dark horse of the Democratic field, but his campaign has yet to ignite. Phil Willon, latimes.com, "High-stakes California governor’s race debate gets testy as personal and political attacks fly," 9 May 2018 Here’s a dark horse for the quarterback battle: incoming freshman Kevaris Thomas. Jake Lourim, The Courier-Journal, "How Louisville football can (and can't) beat Western Kentucky," 4 July 2018 Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart would be the next most-likely scenario, with Wisconsin high-schooler Jarred Kelenic looking like the dark horse. 2. Richard Morin, azcentral, "MLB mock draft 2.0: Arizona Diamondbacks select a high school shortstop," 29 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dark horse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dark horse

1831, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

24 Feb 2019

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The first known use of dark horse was in 1831

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More Definitions for dark horse

dark horse

noun

English Language Learners Definition of dark horse

: a person (such as a politician), animal, or thing that competes in a race or other contest and is not expected to win
British : a person who has interesting qualities or abilities that most people do not know about

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dark horse

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