in the running

Idioms & Phrases

in the running

  1. Entered as a competitor in a contest. For example, Is Mary in the running for this election? The antonym, out of the running, means "not entered as a competitor," as in Ian is out of the running for the job now that he's living in another state. [Mid-1800s]

  2. Having a chance to win, as in Mary's still in the running for the promotion. Again, out of the running means the opposite, as in He's too oldhe's out of the running. [Mid-1800s] Both usages allude to the entry and chances of a horse in a race.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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