Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A horse that does not win, place, or show in a race.
  • noun A loser in a competition, as in an election.
  • noun One that has little talent or success.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A person or animal who competed in a race but did not win.
  • noun Figuratively, a loser; one soon to be forgotten.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a contestant who loses the contest

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

The phrase comes from the world of horse race betting wherein lists of winners would be published with all non-paying positions printed in a block under the heading 'Also Ran:'.

Examples

  • "Libya has gone from the world's most exciting oil-exploration hot spot in 2005 to another geologically, politically and fiscally risky also-ran," says Charles Gurdon , a North Africa expert at Menas Associates, a consultancy.

    For West's Oil Firms, No Love Lost in Libya

  • The company has gone from aerospace also-ran to ranking in the global industry's top two.

    In praise of … Sir John Rose | Editorial

  • A decade ago, this team was an also-ran in Portuguese football, which has long been dominated by three teams—Porto, Benfica and Sporting are known as Os Tres Grandes Big three and have won all but two championships since 1934.

    How Braga Climbed a Mountain

  • A hit could reinvigorate RIM, but a flop could reinforce concerns that the company—late to recognize the importance of offering touch screens and deep pool of apps—is in danger of becoming an also-ran.

    RIM Tries to Push PlayBook Tablet

  • It was widely expected that Japan would end up an economic also-ran like that neighboring island chain, the Philippines.

    Ian Fletcher: Japan, the Forgotten Protectionist Threat

  • Though it is VW's most popular model in the U.S., in Europe the Jetta has the stodgy image of an elderly person's car and is an also-ran to the better-selling Golf hatchback.

    Volkswagen Aims at Fast Lane in U.S.

  • At this point in the last cycle, candidates like Rudy Giuliani had raised $17 million, while even Democratic also-ran Bill Richardson brought in $7 million.

    The Fundraising Gap

  • Looking back, I predict he will be seen as the President that changed America from being a pioneer to being an also-ran.

    Did Obama have a good 2009?

  • Both parties better start working together real soon or you are about to see what it's like to be reduced to an also-ran country as China passes us by in everything, from technology, to energy-efficiency, to healthcare.

    House Democrats plan vote to admonish Wilson

  • It was widely expected that Japan would end up an economic also-ran like that neighboring island chain, the Philippines.

    Ian Fletcher: Japan, the Forgotten Protectionist Threat

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