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View synonyms for also-ran

also-ran

[ awl-soh-ran ]

noun

  1. Sports.
    1. (in a race) a contestant who fails to win or to place among the first three finishers.
    2. an athlete or team whose performance in competition is rarely, if ever, a winning or near-winning one.
  2. Informal. a person who loses a contest, election, or other competition.
  3. Informal. a person who attains little or no success:

    For every great artist there are a thousand also-rans.



also-ran

noun

  1. a contestant, horse, etc, failing to finish among the first three in a race
  2. an unsuccessful person; loser or nonentity


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Word History and Origins

Origin of also-ran1

First recorded in 1895–1900

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Idioms and Phrases

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.

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Example Sentences

Rand Paul had the benefit of observing both what made his father likable and popular, and what made him an also-ran.

Ten years ago, Apple began its transformation from an also-ran PC maker to a world-beating tech titan.

For a time he wrote criticism for Mawaqif, a publication founded by the Syrian poet (and perennial Nobel also-ran) Adonis.

The FTC has subpoenaed Google in an antitrust case—the kind of probe that turned Microsoft from king of tech to an also-ran.

He had made a joke about his movie's status as also-ran to The Hurt Locker.

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Dictionary.com Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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