A Dark Horse

Meaning and Usage

“A dark horse” is an idiomatic expression used to describe someone who is unknown or unexpected, but who may surprise others with their skills or abilities. It can also refer to a person or thing that is not well-known, but that could potentially be successful.


  • “She’s a real dark horse in the competition. No one knows much about her, but she’s been practicing for years and could easily win.”
  • “He’s a dark horse candidate in the election. He’s not well-known, but his ideas are resonating with voters.”
  • “The new employee turned out to be a dark horse. We weren’t sure if she would fit in, but she’s proven to be a valuable asset to the team.”


The phrase “a dark horse” is believed to have originated in the world of horse racing, where a dark-colored horse was sometimes difficult to see or predict in terms of performance. It was later used to describe politicians or candidates who were not well-known, but who could potentially win an election.


  • underdog
  • surprise contender
  • unknown quantity
  • wildcard
  • sleeper
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Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at Camford Publishing
Founder of On the Horizon (camford publishing)and The Technology Source, and professor of education at North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Morrison is author and co-author of over 200 publications focusing on educational planning and using information technology tools.Dr. Morrison has delivered numerous conference presentations and workshops for associations such as EDUCAUSE, AAHE, the College Board and others.He has served as a planning consultant to a number of colleges, universities, university systems, community colleges, educational agencies and public agencies such as the U.S. Department of Labor, and Department of the Army.His consulting activities focus on assisting organizations to integrate information technology tools in teaching and management.

The title of his Speech is “The Future of Distance Learning.” Professor Morrison will describe the driving forces that will affect education and distance learning in this decade and will focus on the implications of these forces for education and distance learning
Dr. James Morrison
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