a dark horse


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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 ?
Helen Darras to promote "Exile To Babylon," a Dark Horse Comics science fiction graphic novel she produced, at the Inaugural 2013 Cardiff Film & Comic Con, Aug.
28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Helen Darras, Licensor and Producer for a Dark Horse Comics graphic novel, is appearing as a guest in Wales at the 2013 Cardiff Film & Comic Con, held Aug.