dark horse

noun
|Updated on: 11 Aug 2018

Definition of dark horse

1 a : 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

  1. The Democrat from Utah has gone from being a dark horse to the front-runner in the campaign for President.

  2. The movie is a dark horse for the award.

  3. He is a dark horse, but I did find out that he once played football professionally.

Recent Examples of dark horse from the Web

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.

First Known Use of dark horse

1831

in the meaning defined at sense 1a

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

DARK HORSE Defined for English Language Learners

dark horse

Definition of dark horse for English Language Learners

  • : a person (such as a politician), animal, or thing that competes in a race or other contest and is not expected to win

  • : a person who has interesting qualities or abilities that most people do not know about


Learn More about dark horse


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up dark horse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

very hard to disturb or upset

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet-pasta-spelling-help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!