Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
1. A bet that has a low probability of winning. That horse is a long shot, but the bet will pay well if he wins the race.
2. Something that has a very small chance of succeeding. I know it's a long shot because of his busy schedule, but maybe I can convince him to help me with this project. Her candidacy was a long shot from the beginning, and her landslide defeat was no surprise.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Fig. a risky bet; an attempt, bet, or proposition that has a low probability of success. (*Typically: be ~; seem like ~.) Your solution is a long shot, but we'll try it and hope it works.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
long shot, a
A remote possibility of success, as in It's a long shot that Joan will actually finish the marathon, or He may be a good programmer, but he's a long shot for that job. This expression alludes to the inaccuracy of early firearms, which when shot over a distance rarely hit the target. It is commonly used in horseracing for a bet made at great odds. A related phrase is not by a long shot, meaning "not even remotely," as in I'll never make it to California in three days, not by a long shot. [Late 1800s]
See also: long
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 long shot
1. If you describe a way of solving a problem as a long shot, you mean that there is little chance that it will succeed, but you think it is worth trying. You could try to find her. It's a long shot but you could start with the phone book.
2. You can also say that something is a long shot when it is very unlikely to happen. It seemed such a long shot, me walking over the hills, and seeing you at the end of it. Compare with by a long shot. Note: The reference here is to someone shooting at a target from a very long distance.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
a ˈlong shot(informal) an attempt or a guess which you do not expect to be successful but which is worth trying: Try ringing him at home. It’s a long shot, I know, but he might just be there. ♢ ‘Are you going to apply for the manager’s job?’ ‘I don’t know. It’s a bit of a long shot, isn’t it?’A long shot is a shot fired from a long distance and so unlikely to hit its target.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
n. a wild guess; an attempt at something that has little chance of succeeding. You shouldn’t expect a long shot to pay off.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
long shot, (not by) a
(Not) a remote chance. Early firearms were notoriously inaccurate, and a shot from a distance rarely hit the target. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries a long shot meant just that, a shot fired from afar. By the late nineteenth century the term had been transferred to other improbable circumstances, such as a wild guess or, more specifically, a bet against considerable odds. From about 1865, however, it also meant far-fetched, as in this OED citation from Young Gentleman’s Magazine (1873): “This did not, however, suit her long-shot tactics.”
See also: long
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer