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might-have-been (plural might-have-beens)

  1. Someone or something whose potential greatness was not achieved.
    • 1960 March, J. P. Wilson & E. N. C. Haywood, “The route through the Peak - Derby to Manchester: Part One”, in Trains Illustrated, page 157:
      One of the might-have-beens of railway history, however, would have altered the appearance of Monsal Dale considerably. The western portion of the Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Railway (projected in 1891), from Chesterfield to Warrington, was planned to cross the dale and the Midland Line by a viaduct 543 yds. long and 272 ft. above the bed of the River Wye.