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.
2. An attempt at something that has little chance for success.
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).
- 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.
- Judging from your facial expression, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you don’t like the taste.
- What’s the capital of Idaho? I will take a wild guess and say it’s Columbus.