In a betting sport such as horse racing or boxing, the competitor for whom the odds are lowest is known as the favourite.

Can the other competitors be termed something in contrast?

  • 2
    Underdog, outsider, challenger, long shot.
    – Ben
    Jul 21, 2014 at 11:05
  • But in fairness, in boxing (if you mean just one bout, not a series), there's only one other in "the field", which could affect the answer.
    – Fattie
    Jul 21, 2014 at 17:40

6 Answers 6


If one competitor is the favorite, the other is the underdog.

  • 6
    That's not for just anyone who's not a favourite, though, but one who is specifically expected not to have a chance of winning. In a field of eight race horses, one might be the favourite, one or two might be underdogs—and the rest are neither. Jul 21, 2014 at 7:51
  • I was under the impression that underdog referred to the least favourite in a competition as @JanusBahsJacquet says, but Wiktionary bears out the definition of any competitor that is not the favourite. In any case, Dan Bron's answer certainly fits the case I was primarily thinking of, as in a one-on-one competition. en.wiktionary.org/wiki/underdog#Noun Jul 21, 2014 at 9:45
  • @william.berg Where? It says specifically there that the underdog is “a competitor thought unlikely to win” (my emphasis). That excludes the middle of the field who aren't favourites to win, but won't shock if they do, either. Jul 21, 2014 at 9:48
  • 2
    you've misspelled favourite.
    – Jodrell
    Jul 21, 2014 at 10:55
  • 3
    @Jodrell: favorite is a perfectly correct spelling.
    – Marthaª
    Jul 22, 2014 at 3:34

Competitors below the favourite or favourites are the field. Least-favoured competitors, for whom long odds are quoted by bookmakers, are long shots, and a winner who was given little or no chance of winning is a dark horse.

  • 2
    Actually, I think dark horse simply means it is less known to the bettors. Usually that also implies it has long odds but it's not always the case - only that it is an unknown entity. Jul 21, 2014 at 8:03
  • 2
    @congusbongus, That's my understanding as well. The dark horse is the wild card, that nobody (or at least, few people) are certain about. define:"dark horse" on Google suggests that the dark horse is both little-known and ends up as the winner.
    – Brian S
    Jul 21, 2014 at 15:16
  • 1
    Upvoted for all information provided except "dark horse" for the reasons already given by congusbongus above.
    – evilspoons
    Jul 21, 2014 at 15:44
  • 1
    This is the correct answer, and it's sad that people voted for a word that is so obviously not what was asked.
    – Fattie
    Jul 21, 2014 at 17:39
  • "I never bet on the favourite: I always bet on the field." This works for horse racing, but what about boxing? Jul 21, 2014 at 21:16

Sticking with betting terminology you could also say "outsider" if the odds against are high.

Or "less fancied" runner.

  • 4
    Also common in betting terminology is the long shot. And a really long odds outsider might be called a rank outsider. I don't know why someone downvoted this well-focussed answer. Jul 20, 2014 at 21:09
  • @FumbleFingers - Thanks. As the DV was simultaneous with the removal of another (negatively voted) answer on this question that I had commented on I suspect it was not given for any particularly good/relevant motivation! Jul 20, 2014 at 21:20
  • The word you are looking for is Outsider or outsiders. Dark horse is one that's not obviously towards the front end of the betting or coming in under the radar but many think has the potential to surprise. Jul 21, 2014 at 4:10

The contender

Especially in human one-on-one sports, such as boxing.

The field

Or the rest of the field, can be used to describe the rest of the non-favourite horses in a horse race.

  • Contender does not mean unfavoured to win. It just means competitor. A contender for the title of boxing champion is one who competes for that title. The contender, or challenger, is not necessarily the one with less odds of winning.
    – pazzo
    Mar 5, 2015 at 9:48

First things to come to mind are cannon fodder and also rans.

Also rans implies the race is over, but I've heard it used to describe competitors that are not expected to place.

Cannon fodder is probably a bit more mean spirited, but gives a sense of providing enough members in the race, but of lesser quality.


Not a contender or long shot are terms used to describe fringe competitors.

To be in the middle of the pack is another term for competitors who are not the favorite to win.

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