a dark horse


Also found in: Dictionary.

dark horse

1. Someone who unexpectedly wins a competition. Nobody thought Cheri could win the race after breaking her leg last year, but she turned out to be a dark horse and took first place. No one thought the brash newcomer would be a threat to the established candidates, but he's turning out to be a real dark horse in this campaign.
2. Someone who surprises others with their skills or talents. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Angela was suddenly viewed as a dark horse when she displayed her beautiful sculptures at the art fair. Nobody knew she had such artistic talent.
See also: dark, horse

a dark horse

COMMON
1. If you describe someone as a dark horse, you mean that you have just discovered something about them, especially a skill or an achievement, that they had not told you about. I didn't know Clare could sing like that. She's a dark horse. What a lot of friends from the past you have — you really are a dark horse, Robert!
2. A dark horse is someone who wins a contest, race, etc when they were not expected to. Czech Karel Novacek, the dark horse of the international tennis circuit, beat his opponent 7-5, 6-2, 6-4. Note: You can also use dark horse before a noun. William Randolph Hearst had briefly been a dark horse candidate for President in 1908. Note: This expression may refer to a horse which people do not know very much about, so that it is difficult to predict how well it will do in a race.
See also: dark, horse

a dark horse

a person, especially a competitor, about whom little is known.
The expression was originally horse-racing slang. The earliest recorded use was by Benjamin Disraeli in 1831 : ‘A dark horse, which had never been thought of…rushed past the grand stand in sweeping triumph’.
See also: dark, horse

a dark ˈhorse

(British English) a person who does not tell other people much about their life, and who surprises other people by having interesting qualities: You’re a dark horse! I had no idea you could play the piano so well.This phrase comes from horse racing. A dark horse was a horse that nobody knew much about and later came to mean somebody who wins a race unexpectedly.
See also: dark, horse
References in periodicals archive ?
Such a horse is called a dark horse, not because of its color, but because of its obscurity.
Kung magiging dark horse pala ako, malamang na tumakbo na ako for president, as long as pareho kami ni Senator Sotto ng concept of what a dark horse is, the former senator said in a text message to reporters.