Not by a long shot is an idiom that is primarily used in the United States, while not by a long chalk is an idiom that is primarily used in Britain. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. Though the definitions of not by a long shot and not by a long chalk are identical, the two terms have very different origins. We will examine the definition of not by a long shot and not by a long chalk, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.
Not by a long shot is a phrase that describes something that is highly unlikely, something that does not come anywhere close to succeeding. The term long shot is something that is highly unlikely, and is sometimes used outside of the idiom not by a long shot. Originating sometime in the late 1700s, the phrase refers to the likelihood of hitting a target that is very far away. Long shot came to be used in horse racing in the mid-1800s to mean a horse that had very little chance of winning. Today, not by a long shot is used in everyday language, primarily in North America.
Not by a long chalk is a phrase that also describes something that is highly unlikely, something that does not come anywhere close to succeeding. The idiom not by a long chalk first appeared in the early 1800s, derived from the practice of using chalk to keep score in games of skill, particularly in English pubs. The practice is still widespread today, in games such as darts. The idea is that the player is determined to persist, even though there may be a large score or long chalk against him.
“In some ways, I’m not exactly what you’d call an optimist, not by a long shot,” Krasny admits. (The Sonoma Index-Tribune)
No, the Disney move isn’t going to kill Netflix, not by a long shot, even though it will almost certainly provide an enormously attractive new streaming service, with decades worth of content for subscribers. (Forbes Magazine)
We, the general public, those not allowed to vote in the referendum, the youth that didn’t vote, and the 16 million ignored people that did, can all try tactical voting but that won’t be enough, not by a long chalk. (The Independent)
But that’s not the whole story – not by a long chalk. (The Guardian)