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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Both projects, and more besides, aim to make Microsoft an also-ran in tomorrow's markets.
▪ Buchanan, who did best among the three also-rans, got only 14 percent.
▪ He warrants only passing references, as if he were some also-ran in the race toward musical greatness.
▪ It would have taken a match of some note to have lifted this last weekend of the Championship out of the also-ran trough.
▪ On the other hand, several of Sridevi's films were also-rans.
▪ Skilful individuals such as Gazza are very much also-rans, though they do have their uses.
▪ The McLaren-Honda partnership, which had dominated F1 racing since 1988, was relegated to the role of also-rans.
▪ We know only the pain of the also-ran, for ever in the shadow of the siren.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1896, originally in reference to horse-races, from also + past tense of run (v.). Probably from the way non-placing horses were listed in race results.


n. 1 A person or animal who competed in a race but did not win. 2 Figuratively, a loser; one soon to be forgotten.


n. a contestant who loses the contest [syn: loser] [ant: winner]


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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.