Share this entry

also-ran Syllabification: al·so-ran

Definition of also-ran in English:

noun (plural also-rans)

1A loser in a race or contest, especially by a large margin.
Example sentences
  • This Saturday's game - and we can leave Italy out of any Six Nations equation - is a race for the also-rans, the contest for an elliptical wooden utensil, the championship's booby prize.
  • Armstrong has reduced the Tour into a race for also-rans.
  • Don't decry their initial efforts, but in the end they were reduced to the role of also-rans in a two-horse race.
1.1An undistinguished or unsuccessful person or thing.
Example sentences
  • Even when he excelled at his favourite hobby of banger racing he was an also-ran, a man with a reputation of being shy, introverted and insignificant.
  • Once the undisputed premier provider of law enforcement handguns to America, the company found itself an also-ran in a few short years.
  • We started imitating rather than innovating and wound up making faux American also-rans.


Late 19th century: originally applied to racehorses that did not finish in the first three.

Definition of also-ran in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day luxe
Pronunciation: ləks
expensive and of high quality; luxurious