in a dead heat

in a dead heat

Fig. [finishing a race] at exactly the same time; tied. The two horses finished the race in a dead heat. They ended the contest in a dead heat.
See also: dead, heat

dead heat, in a

Tied for first place. The term comes from horse-racing, in which “heat” used to mean simply a race (today its meaning is a bit more specific). It was in use by the late eighteenth century (“The whole race was run head and head, terminating in a dead heat,” Sporting Magazine, 1796). It later was applied to any contest in which there was a tie.
See also: dead