dark horse

a racehorse, competitor, etc., about whom little is known or who unexpectedly wins.
a candidate who is unexpectedly nominated at a political convention.


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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
dark horse
1.  a competitor in a race or contest about whom little is known; an unknown
2.  a person who reveals little about himself or his activities, esp one who has unexpected talents or abilities
3.  (US) politics a candidate who is unexpectedly nominated or elected

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

dark horse
in politics, 1842, an image from horse racing, though why a dark horse would be not expected to do well is uncertain.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

dark horse definition

An unexpected winner. In politics, a dark horse is a candidate for office considered unlikely to receive his or her party's nomination, but who might be nominated if party leaders cannot agree on a better candidate.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang Dictionary

dark horse definition

  1. n.
    an unknown entrant into a contest; a surprise candidate for political office. : The party is hoping that a dark horse will appear before the election.
  2. mod.
    previously unknown. : A dark horse player can win if all the others are creeps.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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