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From the world of horse race betting, where lists of winners would be published with non-paying positions printed in a block under the heading 'Also Ran'.


also-ran (plural also-rans)

  1. A person or animal who competed in a race but did not win.
  2. (figurative) A loser; a person or thing soon to be forgotten.


  • 1960: It also turned Palmer from an also-ran into a challenger. — 'Nerves of Steel', The New York Times, 18 June, 1960
  • 1962: I have 37 actors and actresses I would supply for television and radio work and then I have maybe 150 to 200 also-rans who get extra work and television commercials. — Records of the Proceedings and Printed Papers of the Parliament (Australia, volume 4, page 261)
  • 1978: some of Mr. Scorsese's accomplishments have been so stunning—that it's impossible to view "The Last Waltz" as anything but an also-ran. — Janet Maslin, The New York Times, review of The Last Waltz, April 26, 1978
  • 1993: And, of course, it is also far easier, quicker, and less embarrassing to dismiss an also-ran over the phone than it is in person — Martin Yate, Hiring the Best, Adams Media, 1993, page 58
  • 1998: as the drug came out of the R&D laboratory, it could have been just another also-ran — Richard C Dorf, The Technology Management Handbook, CRC Press, 1998, page 3-40
  • 2004: The transition from comer to also-ran can be quick — The New Yorker, August 9 & 16, 2004, p.40


See also[edit]