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

  • noun One who achieves unexpected support and success as a political candidate, typically during a party's convention.
  • noun A little-known, unexpectedly successful entrant, as in a horserace.

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

  • noun idiomatic, politics A candidate who is nominated unexpectedly, without previously having been discussed or considered as a likely choice.
  • noun rare An unexpected success.

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

  • noun a political candidate who is not well known but could win unexpectedly
  • noun a racehorse about which little is known


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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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