Shot In The Dark

Meaning:

1. A Guess at something enough though the person lacks knowledge on the subject.

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

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
1. Go out on a limb
2. Hazard a guess
3. Take a wild guess

Shot In The Dark – Origin

Taking a shot in darkness is not going to be accurate, obviously, because you can’t see the target well enough. As for where this expression comes from, I don’t think that’s clear. Perhaps hunting, if hunters would go out at night, they would literally being shooting in the dark.

However that is simply a guess, a ‘shot in the dark’ for where this phrase may have originated from. In any case, the earliest I could of this idiom in print was the 1880s. For example, in the South Australian Register newspaper, 1883, there’s a part from it that reads:

“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.”


Example Sentence(s)

  1. 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.

Note: We have the meanings for numerous popular sayings, and even the origins for them too! However, the origins for many idioms are unclear. Often times, the origins you see listed are plausible theories to how an idiom came to be, but may not necessarily so. Moreover, the quotes you see that contain the phrase are the oldest that I could find.

Keep in mind, just because you see a saying in a newspaper from 1850 does not necessarily mean that it originated from that newspaper. In all likelihood, if a saying is being used in a form of media like that, then it’s probably already a known phrase and is thus, from an earlier time. The purpose of the old quotes I list is to give you a rough idea on how old some phrases are.