Word of the Day Archive
Monday January 14, 2013
1. Informal. A person who loses a contest, election, or other competition.
2. Sports. A. (In a race) a contestant who fails to win or to place among the first three finishers. B. An athlete or team whose performance in competition is rarely, if ever, a winning or near-winning one.
3. Informal. A person who attains little or no success: For every great artist there are a thousand also-rans.
Nah! They wouldn't want an also-ran, and Edsel will always be an also-ran. They want a contender, and that's you.
-- Emily Carmichael, A New Leash on Life
The Republicans’ allowing Clint Eastwood to improvise like an also-ran at a talent show, on their Convention’s most important night, only heightened the contrast.
-- Steve Coll, "Conventional Wisdom," The New Yorker, Sept. 17, 2012
Also-ran was first used in the late 1800s to refer to the losing horse in a horse race. The term was applied more broadly to the loser of any contest shortly thereafter.