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A shot in the dark and a stab in the dark

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  • A shot in the dark and a stab in the dark are two idioms that have the same meaning. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of a shot in the dark and a stab in the dark, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.


     

    A shot in the dark may mean a wild guess or an attempt that has very little chance of being successful. A shot in the dark is usually attempted when all other ideas have failed, and may be considered a last-ditch effort. The idea is of  attempting to hit a target without being able to see it. George Bernard Shaw is credited as being the first to use a shot in the dark in a metaphorical sense, in The Saturday Review in 1895.

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    A stab in the dark is a variant of the idiom a shot in the dark, and also may mean a wild guess or an attempt that has very little chance of being successful. Both a shot in the dark and a stab in the dark are used as nouns.

    Examples

    Marketing campaigns should never be a shot in the dark. (Forbes Magazine)

    “It’s a shot in the dark to just pick a random company and try to get it to move to town,” says Jeremy Rogers, vice president of the Oregon Business Council, which launched the Oregon Industry Cluster Network in 2005. (Oregon Business)

    Commenting on the study, Karen Stalbow, head of policy, knowledge and impact at the charity Prostate Cancer UK, said: “For too long men have had to endure a stab in the dark biopsy technique which can miss one in four harmful prostate cancers.” (The Belfast Telegraph)

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