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 Earlier this year, Honeywell, a dark horse, surprised many people by bursting onto the quantum computing scene with a version of its own technology. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Quantum computing is entering a new dimension," 3 Dec. 2020 The Tigers and Wildcats are dark horse contenders in their respective divisions, and this game provides an important opportunity to get started on the right foot. USA TODAY, "USA TODAY sports college football staff picks for Week 4," 24 Sep. 2020 For those looking for a potential dark horse, Julian Assange is plus 250: a hundred-dollar wager would net two hundred and fifty. Zach Helfand, The New Yorker, "What are the Odds That Trump Pardons Himself?," 14 Dec. 2020 In another region, Spring would most likely be labeled a favorite than a dark horse. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, "2020 UIL high school football playoff 6A, 5A predictions: Best first-round matchups, dark horses and regional winners," 8 Dec. 2020 History suggests that, to have even a dark horse shot at contention, a team must own a defensive rating that ranks among the top half of the league. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "5 pressing questions facing Warriors after a chaotic week of roster building," 26 Nov. 2020 Along with Yeun, Yeri Han is a dark horse for a best actress nomination while Alan S. Kim, Will Patton and Yuh-Jung Youn will fight for recognition in the supporting categories. NBC News, "Steven Yeun drama 'Minari' will run in N.Y. and L.A. theaters, expand later," 11 Nov. 2020 The Marauders are undefeated and a dark horse to make a run to the state title. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, "The Dallas Morning News' midseason and regular season awards for the 2020 Texas high school football season," 11 Nov. 2020 Fansided's Leigh Oleszczak wrote that Murray is a dark horse candidate for MVP with his insane numbers. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona Cardinals are NFL contenders because of quarterback Kyler Murray," 11 Nov. 2020

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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Statistics for dark horse

Last Updated

30 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dark horse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dark%20horse. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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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