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Underdog is an idiom that originated in the United States. We will examine the definition of the word underdog, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

An underdog is the person in a contest or competition who is the least likely to win that contest or competition. An underdog begins a contest or competition at a disadvantage, which may be due to his physical stature, lack of education, lack of social advantages, lack of funds, etc. It is a particularly American trait to root for the underdog, or to hope that the underdog in a situation prevails. Perhaps the most well-known story of the triumph of an underdog is the Biblical story concerning David and Goliath. David was a small, young boy who triumphed in a physical fight against the giant, Goliath. The word underdog first appeared in the mid-1800s, and is derived from the illegal practice of dog fighting, the underdog being the one that loses the fight. Note that underdog is a closed compound word, which is one where there is no space between two, joined words.


More specifically, it’s another NBA Finals appearance in which James’s team is an underdog, this time a heavy one. (The Washington Post)

As he thanked his family and campaign team, he noted that he has always been an “underdog.” AP called the race as he finished his speech. (The Jackson Free Press)

Earlier this year, North Korea tried to assume the “underdog” seat at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. (The Dallas Morning News)