- (in a race) a contestant who fails to win or to place among the first three finishers.
- an athlete or team whose performance in competition is rarely, if ever, a winning or near-winning one.
- Informal. a person who loses a contest, election, or other competition.
- Informal. a person who attains little or no success: For every great artist there are a thousand also-rans.
Origin of also-ran
Examples from the Web for also-ran
Rand Paul had the benefit of observing both what made his father likable and popular, and what made him an also-ran.Rand Paul’s Daddy Issues
July 28, 2014
Ten years ago, Apple began its transformation from an also-ran PC maker to a world-beating tech titan.Welcome to the Anarchy Economy
April 23, 2013
For a time he wrote criticism for Mawaqif, a publication founded by the Syrian poet (and perennial Nobel also-ran) Adonis.Elias Khoury: Profile of the Essential Arab Novelist Today
August 3, 2012
The FTC has subpoenaed Google in an antitrust case—the kind of probe that turned Microsoft from king of tech to an also-ran.Google Faces Antitrust Subpoena
June 23, 2011
He had made a joke about his movie's status as also-ran to The Hurt Locker.Party Hopping Before the Oscars
The Daily Beast
March 7, 2010
- a contestant, horse, etc, failing to finish among the first three in a race
- an unsuccessful person; loser or nonentity
Word Origin and History for also-ran
Idioms and Phrases with also-ran
Loser, failure, unsuccessful individual, as in Jane feared that her candidate, a terrible speaker, would end up as an also-ran, or As for getting promotions, Mark counted himself among the also-rans. This term comes from racing, where it describes a horse that finishes in fourth place or lower or does not finish a race at all. It first appeared in the 1890s in published racing results, and has since been transferred to losers in any kind of competition, and also more broadly to persons who simply don't do well.