Definition of also-ran in English:


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nounplural noun also-rans

  • 1A loser in a race or other contest, especially by a large margin.

    ‘the line between champions and also-rans’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We have a few champions and a multitude of also-rans; we have winners and losers; and we associate excellence with the former and mediocrity with the latter.’
    • ‘The Nationalists took heart, however, from the fact that Scotland's other smaller parties look destined to be also-rans in May's contest and insisted there is still all to play for.’
    • ‘Sure, but try existing in the basement where there is little appreciation of the efforts of the back-markers and also-rans, some of whom train just as hard as the winners.’
    • ‘Otherwise, the most talked about racing career since that of Lester Piggott has been peppered with a couple of Derby thirds, and lots of also-rans.’
    • ‘The event is also lucrative for the also-rans, with even the eighth-placed horse earning £25,000.’
    • ‘Instead of reloading for championship runs, the also-rans in the East are looking at the examples set by the Nets, Pistons and Celtics - that the road to revival in the East somehow is filled with shortcuts.’
    • ‘Throughout his 13-year career, Taylor was a marauding, intimidating presence who helped transform the Giants from also-rans into champions.’
    • ‘This is what separates the champions from the also-rans.’
    • ‘It promises to find out which memories hit home and which fell by the wayside and to sort the champions from the also-rans with a final round of quick fire general knowledge.’
    • ‘However, two years is a very short time in which to turn a team of also-rans into possible World Champions.’
    • ‘Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996 and turned them from also-rans to unbeatable world champions within just four seasons, and could help them secure their sixth consecutive world title on Sunday.’
    • ‘After retiring in 1954, he took over as manager at Ipswich Town turning the small town club from Division Three also-rans to Division One champions in 1962.’
    • ‘It could happen this time around, with four, five or six also-rans in each major league clutching at the last straw in the closing weeks.’
    • ‘So what are the key factors that separate the million-dollar winners from the also-rans?’
    • ‘Their privately-schooled counterparts had nudged them into the league of also-rans.’
    • ‘I'm in 170th place and 44 minutes behind the winner: to call me an also-ran would be flattery.’
    • ‘Every time, they would end up among the also-rans of the National Basketball Association.’
    defeated person, also-ran, the defeated, the vanquished
    1. 1.1 informal An undistinguished or unsuccessful person or thing.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He revealed the secrets to making sure your runner beans are not also-rans: ‘Attention to detail, getting the right variety, good soil, and a lot of hard work.’’
      • ‘Uncle Rico lives in a trailer and is stuck in the past, reliving his glory days as a football also-ran by videoing himself throwing balls.’
      • ‘In the audio system, carbody electronics and instrument cluster sectors, the company has been strong in Europe but an also-ran in North America.’



/ˈôlsōˌran/ /ˈɔlsoʊˌræn/


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