dark horse


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 But take a moment and consider my dark horse candidate: sulfur dioxide. Anton Alexandrovich Toutov, The Conversation, "Sulfur pollution from coal and gas is insanely bad – but a new chemistry innovation could clean it up," 23 Oct. 2019 The dark horses: Damoun Patterson, Braxton Berrios, Ryan Davis, Gunner Olszewski. Jim Mcbride, BostonGlobe.com, "Receiving jobs will be up for grabs during Patriots training camp," 19 June 2019 But a few dark horses will emerge to make those conferences races more interesting. Ralph D. Russo, The Denver Post, "Minnesota, Baylor among college football’s dark horse league contenders," 18 Aug. 2019 But to the surprise of anyone who's been following the race so far, the dark horse of tonight's debates was Marianne Williamson. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "What Exactly Is Marianne Williamson's Reparations Plan?," 31 July 2019 The Colts reported Wednesday to Grand Park for their 2019 NFL training camp to odes that say the Colts aren’t just the AFC South favorite but a dark horse to win the AFC championship, perhaps even the Super Bowl. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: This Colts team is good. To pretend otherwise is ridiculous. But don't expect it to go to their heads," 24 July 2019 Quarterfinal 4 -- Italy vs Netherlands (Saturday) Italy, competing at a Women's World Cup for the first time in 20 years, is regarded as the competition's dark horses and with good reason. George Ramsay, CNN, "Women's World Cup: Quarterfinals set to be 'wild and crazy'," 26 June 2019 Some consider the Spartans a dark horse to supplant Ohio State and knock off Michigan to win the Big Ten East. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State expectations: What history says Mark Dantonio can do," 23 Aug. 2019 Every good Championship campaign needs a dark horse, an outsider for promotion who stuns the league competition. SI.com, "4 Reasons Why Nottingham Forest Could Be the Dark Horses of the 2019/20 Championship Campaign," 28 July 2019

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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The first known use of dark horse was in 1831

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Last Updated

17 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Dark horse.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dark%20horse. Accessed 11 December 2019.

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More Definitions for dark horse

dark horse


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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heavy with or as if with moisture

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