frontrunner

front runner

noun
1.
a person who leads in any competition.
2.
an entrant in a race who breaks to the front immediately and establishes the pace for the field.
3.
an entrant in a race who performs well only when ahead of the field.
Also, front-runner, frontrunner.


Origin:
1935–40, Americanism

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World English Dictionary
frontrunner (ˈfrʌntˌrʌnə)
 
n
informal the leader or a favoured contestant in a race, election, etc

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

frontrunner
also front-runner, 1914, a metaphor from racing.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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