Sometimes I find an outsider in a conversation with little or no knowledge about the subject or ground already covered in the conversation makes a random guess about a question no one can answer and it turns out to be correct. I have experienced this often enough that it seems like there might be a word or phrase for it, but if there is I don't remember it. Any insight would be appreciated!


Wow, Bert only said that it might be catalytic converter because he heard us say that term earlier in the conversation. He doesn't know anything about cars. I can't believe he was actually right! That was a real ________!

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    "Lucky guess." I don't think there's a single word for it.
    – Evan
    May 25, 2017 at 0:24
  • 10
    – user1635
    May 25, 2017 at 1:53
  • 1
    'FLUKE' suggested by Rahul is a very good option for this case. May 26, 2017 at 13:17
  • 1
    On Car Talk, they call it "unencumbered by the thought process." Jun 5, 2017 at 5:32
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    "Even a blind chicken finds a kernel of corn now and then" but I can't back it up with any references that aren't to a music album or what seems to me to be low grade references. Blind squirrels and nuts are supposedly used in the American South in a similar way.
    – Bent
    Oct 7, 2018 at 18:24

8 Answers 8




An unlikely chance occurrence, especially a surprising piece of luck.
‘their victory was a bit of a fluke’


Wild guess is a perfectly fine phrase, but if you don't like that one, I'd suggest a shot in the dark:

A shot (or stab) in the dark


An act whose outcome cannot be foreseen; a guess.
‘their experiments were little more than shots in the dark’

  • 5
    This doesn't capture the "turns out to be correct" part, which is critical to the question being asked.
    – John Y
    May 25, 2017 at 16:09
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    @JohnY, maybe a lucky shot/stab in the dark in this case then.
    – dangph
    May 26, 2017 at 6:30

You might say,

He really caught lightning in a bottle that time!

The idiom catch lightning in a bottle refers to succeeding at an extremely difficult task—usually through a single stroke of great luck or through a remarkable series of individually minor instances of good luck.

The expression alludes to the Benjamin Franklin kite experiment, but it seems to have first became idiomatic in U.S. baseball, in reference to a team or player that, against all expectations, plays at a very high level. The downside of the expression is the implication that the player or team is likely to revert to the mean (that is, to mediocrity) when the stroke or run of good luck ends.

  • I disagree. This is the precise opposite of a fluke.
    – Fattie
    Oct 7, 2018 at 14:52

"Lucky guess."

An apparently unreasoned guess that turns out to be correct may be called a happy guess, or a lucky guess, and it has been argued that "a 'lucky guess' is a paradigm case of a belief that does not count as knowledge".

Emphasis mine.


Beginner's luck is an appropriate idiom here -- colloquially, it refers to the success a novice may have, even though it is clearly not due to skill or knowledge.

A more strict/scientific discussion of beginner's luck is here, and I'd say it's used the most colloquially referring to things like games, but I can't imagine that your meaning wouldn't be taken as it's common in casual conversation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beginner%27s_luck


It's just dumb luck! This refers to the "wild, uneducated, random" part of your question.

dumb luck 1. pure chance.

Definition of dumb luck

Dumb luck is when a long shot hits the bull's eye!

long shot (noun) an attempt or guess that has only the slightest chance of succeeding or being accurate.

Definition of long shot

hit the bull's-eye [Also, hit the mark or hit the nail on the head] Be absolutely right

Definition of hit the bull's eye

  • If you click on the tiny question mark on the editor toolbox, and then advanced help it explains how to embed links.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 28, 2017 at 9:22
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    @Mari-Lou A thanks for the tip and for pointing out the 2 answers -- there is some asynchronicity with my browser but I have deleted the incomplete answer which was posted by error May 28, 2017 at 9:25
  • bravo! you did it,
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 28, 2017 at 10:03
  • @Mari-Lou A it took a bit of figuring out because I have no experience with that sort of thing, but seeing those nice embedded links, it's so worth it! May 28, 2017 at 10:09

I'd say that was just fortuitous.

fortuitous -lucky; fortunate:

Or It was more by luck than judgement.

more by luck than judgment- by chance and not because of any special skill:

or It could have been providential

providential - opportune, fortunate, or lucky.


While not usually used for guessing, the phrase "Hail Mary" would be understood. In football, a Hail Mary pass is one made at extreme range with no obvious guarantee that it will be caught. The image is of the quarterback making a desperate prayer before throwing the ball.


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