A Shoo-in

Meaning of Idiom ‘A Shoo-in’

A shoo-in is something or someone who is certain or very likely to win. Often misspelled as shoe-in.

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Examples Of Use

“The Rebublican candidate is a shoo-in to win the race for Governor.”

“Despite how unpopular he is, the professor is a shoo-in for tenure.”

“I don’t know why you’re worried about your job interview. You’re so perfectly qualified you’re a shoo-in!”


How to Play the Game: American English Sports & Games Idioms This idiom has nothing to do with shoes, but rather the act of “shoo-ing.” For example, we often “shoo away” flies or birds. The word shoo’ has been around since the 15th century and is related to the German word scheuchen, meaning “to drive away.”

Rather than flies (or children), however, the expression comes to us from horse racing during the late 1800’s and into the early 1900’s. A shoo-in, rather than a legitimate victory, involved fixed races.

In horse racing, a shoo-in involved a group of racers betting on a horse that was not very likely to win and so was given long odds. Then, during the race, the riders would hold their own horses back and spur the weaker horse through the finish line. The notion of riders “shooing in” a horse to the finish line gave rise to the slang term for such cheating. Since such a horse was “sure to win,” the expression passed into general use, alluding to anyone or anything sure to be victorious.

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