What can be the one word for a person who goes against the odds and finally emerges as a winner.? is "rebel" the correct word?

  • 2
    dark horse, long shot, underdog. But not a rebel as defined. It's not rebellious to want to win. Maybe tenacious etc as an adjective.
    – stevesliva
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 5:17

5 Answers 5


As stevesliva suggested, you could call that person a dark horse.

dark horse

A little known, unexpectedly successful entrant, as in You never can tell-some dark horse may come along and win a Senate seat. This metaphoric expression originally alluded to an unknown horse winning a race and was so used in a novel by Benjamin Disraeli ( The Young Duke, 1831). It soon began to be transferred to political candidates, among the first of whom was James K. Polk. He won the 1844 Democratic Presidential nomination on the eighth ballot and went on to win the election. (The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms)

  • 1
    does this qualify being "against the odds"? Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 5:44
  • @Nikita This qualifies being "unexpected."
    – Elian
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 5:47

I' d say a determined person:

  • showing that you are not willing to let anything prevent you from doing what you have decided to.

(MacMillan Dict.)

A sleeper may also fit your context:

  • a person or thing that achieves unexpected success after an initial period of obscurity

(Collins Dict.)

  • Synonym of determined: "resolute" (e.g. she is a resolute competitor)
    – Graffito
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 11:14


A competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest.

'As she had never won in an official competition she was clearly the underdog in the Olympic trials.'

Oxford Dictionary

Although there are many words to describe this concept I find that this word is pretty common in the context of competition.


You could call him a David, as in the Biblical "David and Goliath."

Typically you have to mention Goliath in the context somewhere for people to understand the reference, so while it may capture the meaning well it is somewhat awkward to use.


you might consider simply tough

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