No horse in the race and no dog in the fight

No horse in the race and no dog in the fight are idioms that may not be as old as you think. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idioms no horse in the race and no dog in the fight, where they came from, and some examples of their idiomatic usage in sentences.

The idioms no horse in the race and no dog in the fight mean that one has no vested interest in the outcome of a certain situation; the person has no stake in the matter. The phrases refer to the fact that if one does not have a monetary interest or point of pride involved in a contest, then the outcome of that contest is of no interest. The expressions no horse in the race and no dog in the fight are found in print mostly in the United States starting in the latter-20th century; however, the idioms were most probably popular in colloquial use before that time. Today, the terms are particularly popular in business and politics and their popularity is rising.


While his journalistic background includes food writing (he’s a former editor of Eating Well magazine), Mr. Estabrook poses as a dietary Everyman: no expert scientific or medical knowledge and no investment in any one regimen: “I had no horse in the race other than my rotund belly.” (Wall Street Journal)

In a Wednesday afternoon email, Tindall wrote that Tennessee officials told HMG that it had “no horse in the race” and that “unblinding was solely a Pfizer decision.“ (Kingsport Times-News)

Real Raw News calls itself apolitical – “we have no dog in the fight, as they say” – but it peddles pro-Trump conspiracy theories about the military’s pursuit of former Vice President Mike Pence and Trump writing an indictment of former U.S. Attorney General William Barr. (USA Today)

It is encouraging however to see that others who may have no dog in the fight have been more rational. (Sierra Leone Telegraph)

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