horses for courses

From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


A user suggests that this English entry be cleaned up, giving the reason: “merge the Phrase and Noun sections”.
Please see the discussion on Requests for cleanup(+) or the talk page for more information and remove this template after the problem has been dealt with.


Horses racing at Musselburgh Racecourse in Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland, UK. The phrase horses for courses alludes to the fact that a racehorse performs best on a racecourse to which it is specifically suited.

An allusion to the fact that a racehorse performs best on a racecourse to which it is specifically suited.



horses for courses

  1. (chiefly Britain, idiomatic) Different people are suited for different jobs or situations; what is fitting in one case may not be fitting in another.
    • 2003 May 14, Christopher Browne, “Bonanza time for home buyers”, in The Independent[1], London, archived from the original on 21 November 2017:
      Not long ago, a group of Thames-side penthouses went up for sale with giveaway Ducati motorbikes worth £13,000 apiece. [] "In many cases giveaways are horses for courses, the inducements matching the styles of properties being marketed," he [David Hollingworth of London and Country Mortgages] adds.
    • 2014 November 10, Helen Coffey, “What does Mick Hucknall have that other men lack?”, in The Daily Telegraph[2], London, archived from the original on 11 March 2015:
      Far be it from me to judge what anyone else finds attractive – each to their own, horses for courses, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and any number of similar well-meaning platitudes – but no one's going to start arguing forcefully that Mick [Hucknall]'s ever been 'classically handsome'.
    • 2002 March 13, Sarah Left, “Email beats snail mail for residential use”, in The Guardian[3], London, archived from the original on 5 March 2016:
      Emailed greeting cards and digital photos may be more acceptable now, but are not a substitute for the post on every occasion. "People will still want to pour their heart out in letter or want that special photo of a grandchild. It's horses for courses," he [Alki Manias of NetValue] said.
    • 2013 January 12, Ivan Hewett, “John Zorn: Master of all styles and none”, in The Daily Telegraph[4], London, archived from the original on 15 March 2016:
      However intense music becomes, there's always a limit to how far it can go. And that limit is marked out by its genre or style. [] It's an age-old rule, this insistence on "horses for courses", but in the modern era many musicians have become impatient with it. They dream of a music that knows no limits, which can do everything, all at once.
    • 1894 December, Baily’s Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, volume 62, London: Baily Brothers, →OCLC, page 417:
      We must note, too, the good position (third) gained by Esmond as an undeniable instance of the "horses for courses" theory, for Esmond won the Peverill of the Peek Plate on this course two years in succession—1892–3.
    • 1961 July, “Editorial: Sir Brian begs the questions”, in Trains Illustrated, page 385:
      Almost immediately he went on to press for stricter standardisation in the future, saying that "horses for courses" was a luxury B.R. could not afford and that manufacturers must expect more detailed specifications from railway engineers in the future.

Usage notes[edit]

Although this term is, strictly, a noun phrase, it is often used as if it were a sentence expressing a proverb.

Alternative forms[edit]


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]