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Dead heat

Posted by James Briggs on October 14, 2004

In Reply to: Dead heat posted by Kari on October 14, 2004

: What is the origin of the phrase "the race is a dead heat", meaning "a tie"? What's the origin of "a tie" for that matter?

'Heat' is a term for one of a series of races. Heat 1, heat 2....etc up semi final and final. Thus a 'dead' heat is one that is drawn, tied up into equal parts or equally shared, in the same sense of 'dead' that you get in other expressions, eg 'he's a dead ringer' for. I'm sure an on-line dictionary will give you the precise derevation of 'dead' in this sense - nothing to do with death! Equally, you'll find the exact derevation of 'heat' in the racing sense.