- a racehorse, competitor, etc., about whom little is known or who unexpectedly wins.
- a candidate who is unexpectedly nominated at a political convention.
Origin of dark horse
Examples from the Web for dark horse
The scene was similar in 1978 when Karol Wojtyla from Poland was elected on the eight ballot as a dark-horse candidate.‘Habemus Who?’ A Daunting Task at the Papal Conclave
Barbie Latza Nadeau
March 10, 2013
A dark-horse candidate becomes likely only if one of the principal candidates withdraws in his favor.Republicans, Dissatisfied with Their Presidential Field, Dream of Deadlock
December 20, 2011
Another British-made film that enthralled crowds in Telluride is more of a dark-horse candidate.Will Brits Own the Oscars?
September 9, 2010
- a competitor in a race or contest about whom little is known; an unknown
- a person who reveals little about himself or his activities, esp one who has unexpected talents or abilities
- US politics a candidate who is unexpectedly nominated or elected
Word Origin and History for dark horse
in politics, 1842, an image from horse racing, in which dark is used in its figurative sense of "unknown."
Moonraker is called a "dark horse"; that is neither his sire nor dam is known. ["Pierce Egan's Book of Sports," London, 1832]
An unexpected winner. In politics, a dark horse is a candidate for office considered unlikely to receive his or her party's nomination, but who might be nominated if party leaders cannot agree on a better candidate.
Idioms and Phrases with dark horse
A little known, unexpectedly successful entrant, as in You never can tell—some dark horse may come along and win a Senate seat. This metaphoric expression originally alluded to an unknown horse winning a race and was so used in a novel by Benjamin Disraeli (The Young Duke, 1831). It soon began to be transferred to political candidates, among the first of whom was James K. Polk. He won the 1844 Democratic Presidential nomination on the eighth ballot and went on to win the election.