Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
n. 1 A person or animal who competed in a race but did not win. 2 Figuratively, a loser; one soon to be forgotten.
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Usage examples of "also-ran".
I had a crooked nose and a scar down one cheek from where a horse's hoof had cut my face open, and among jockeys I was an also-ran as a bird-attracter.
More animated, in every sense, was the tableful of centrefold also-rans to the left of the podium, who greeted each remark with approving yelps of 'Yeah!
At the end of an unproductive three hours of also-rans, the trainer told his jockey that good owners were harder to replace than good riders (Red Millbrook excepted).
Moggie Reilly's heroic saviour, partnering one of the eventual also-rans, shrugged off his action later with, 'You'd have done it for me, mate'.
Eventually she donates herself to a commune of also-rans, accepting their personality in return for a total break with the past.
Only he's poor, this whole polity is poor, and it can't ever be anything else, in fact, because it's a dumping ground for merely posthuman also-rans, the singularitarian equivalent of australopithecines.
You will also experience a wildly selective generosity, the also-rans routinely overworked and underpaid, the front-runners smothered in celebrity purchases — jewels, furs, paintings, cars, and what Californians call a 'home'.
The also-rans end up in the chorus, are doomed to subsidiary roles, or skitter off to less demanding singing careers.
The list, printed in a tiny type face called Brilliant, which had not been used for a century in the United States for anything except shipping news and the lifetime records of also-ran horses, took up both sides of six sheets of pink paper.
He was a political survivor because he understood the unwritten rules of the also-ran.