hiding to nothing

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From horse racing, hiding (beating); to (as used to express gambling odds), e.g., 6 to 1. Literally, the phrase can be described as to bet on a contest whose outcome is at worst a beating, or at best nothing. A heavily favored team in a sporting contest earns no credit for victory, but is shamed by defeat; this team is said to be on a hiding to nothing.

Noun[edit]

hiding to nothing (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic, UK, informal) A situation in which victory has little or no value, but defeat has a huge cost.
    • 1915, James Forman Sloan and A. Dick Luckman, Tod Sloan‎, page 245:
      It would have been madness to encourage them to back the mare : in fact I was on a hiding to nothing whatever happened.
    • 1931, The Atlantic Monthly‎, Making of America Project, pages 60:
      No legitimate excuse for introduction existed, or could exist, and the odds looked like a hiding to nothing should Bayard attempt to force a meeting […]
    • 1989, Dave Graves, A layman's guide to United Kingdom air traffic control‎, page 76:
      It is a nasty situation and DFR knows that he is on a good hiding to nothing. He sometimes feels that he is the least understood and most unloved ATCO in [the UK]
    • 2003, Robin Birn, The international handbook of market research techniques‎, page 543:
      This often makes it a nervous, hiding-to-nothing game in which disasters are so much more memorable than successes
    • 2003, Frank L. Clarke; G. W. Dean, Kyle Gaius Oliver, Corporate collapse: accounting, regulatory and ethical failure‎, page 39:
      Company directors are on a hiding to nothing when it comes to trusting their reputations to the accounting statements for which they are responsible.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Can be used to describe any contested outcome.

References[edit]

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/on-a-hiding-to-nothing.html