dark horse

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Originally an allusion to an unknown horse winning a race, as used in an 1831 novel The Young Duke by Benjamin Disraeli.


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dark horse (plural dark horses)

  1. (idiomatic, politics) A candidate who is nominated unexpectedly, without previously having been discussed or considered as a likely choice.
  2. (rare) An unexpected success.
    Everyone was expecting the red team to win, but the greens were the dark horse in the event.