in succession; consecutively: He slept badly for three nights running.


    in the running,
    1. participating or entered as a competitor.
    2. under consideration as a candidate or possible choice: Who is still in the running for the directorship?
    3. among the winners or those making a good showing.
    out of the running,
    1. not competing in a contest or race.
    2. not among the winners or runners-up in a contest or race: to finish out of the running.

Origin of running

Middle English word dating back to 1150–1200; see origin at run, -ing1, -ing2
Related formswell-run·ning, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for out of the running



maintained continuously; incessanta running battle; running commentary
(postpositive) without interruption; consecutivehe lectured for two hours running
denoting or relating to the scheduled operation of a public vehiclethe running time of a train
accomplished at a runa running jump
(of a knot) sliding along the rope from which it is made, so as to form a noose which becomes smaller when the rope is pulled
(of a wound, sore, etc) discharging pus or a serous fluid
denoting or relating to operations for maintenancerunning repairs
prevalent; currentrunning prices
repeated or continuousa running design
(of certain plants, plant stems, etc) creeping along the ground
flowingrunning water
(of handwriting) having the letters run together


management or organizationthe running of a company
operation or maintenancethe running of a machine
competition or a competitive situation (in the phrases in the running, out of the running)
make the running to set the pace in a competition or race
rare the power or ability to run
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for out of the running



Old English ærning, verbal noun from run (v.); to be in (or out) of the running "among" (or "not among") "the lead competitors in a race" (1863) is a metaphor from horse racing, where make the running "set the pace" is recorded from 1837. Running shoe is from 1884.



present participle adjective from run (v.). Running mate originally was a horse entered in a race to set the pace for another from the same stable who was intended to win (1865); U.S. vice-presidential sense is recorded from 1888. Running dog first recorded 1937, from Chinese and North Korean communist phrases used to describe supposed imperialist lackeys, cf. Mandarin zou gou "running dog," on the notion of a dog that runs at its master's command. Running board first attested 1817, in reference to ships and boats; 1907 of cars and trucks.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with out of the running

out of the running

see under in the running.


In addition to the idioms beginning with running

  • running on empty
  • running start

also see:

  • hit the ground running
  • in the running
  • meter is running
  • off and running
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.