Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Related to also-ran: Propylidene
Someone who is unimportant or unsuccessful. The phrase originated in horse racing. That guy is definitely an also-ran—his best days in the league are far behind him.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
someone of no significance. (From horse racing, used of a horse that finishes a race but that does not finish among the money winners.) Oh, he's just another also-ran. Ignore the also-rans.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
A loser. The term comes from late nineteenth-century horse racing, where it signified a horse that ran a race but failed to win, place, or show. It was later broadened to any kind of competitor—in an election or other contest—who lost.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer