Shot In The Dark


The meaning of the phrase ‘shot in the dark‘ is:

1. Taking a guess at something even though the person lacks knowledge on the subject.

Example: My car is not starting for some reason. Now, I don’t know a lot about cars so this is a shot in the dark, but I think the battery is the issue.

2. An attempt at something that has little chance for success.

Example: I’ve been trying to fix an error on my computer for over an hour now. At this point, I’m just taking shots in the dark and hoping something works.

1. Go out on a limb
2. Hazard a guess
3. Take a wild guess

The Origin of ‘Shot In The Dark’

The basic idea with this expression is that it’s hard to accurately shoot something in the dark. Imagine someone was standing in a large, pitch black room with a target located somewhere within. If their goal was to throw a ball at the target, their chances of successfully hitting it is very low. They would basically have to guess where to throw! Thus, if someone is taking a guess or they are doing something that has a low chance of success, it’s like they’re taking a shot in the dark.

Anyway, this phrase’s origin dates back to at least the 1880s. For example, it appears in the South Australian Register newspaper, 1883:

“No doubt every estimate made at the time was a shot in the dark, but it would appear from the result of the first tendering that Mr. Morgan’s guess of $(?)250,000 was rather under than over the mark.”

That means this expression is at least 136 years old (as of this writing).

Example Sentences

  • I don’t know what Bill’s favorite color is, but if I were to take a shot in the dark, I would say it’s yellow.

Similar Examples:

  • Judging from your facial expression, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you don’t like the taste of that soup.
  • What’s the capital of Idaho? I will take a wild guess and say it’s Columbus.

Tip: If you’re looking for the meaning of more popular sayings and their origin, we have a list for you! It’s actually right up at the top; you can get to the list by using the menu. Simply choose one of the letters to get started and you’ll find hundreds of phrases to browse through! So go explore and learn what they mean!