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Posted by TheFallen on October 14, 2004

In Reply to: Dead heat posted by SR 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.
: : Try

: I remember an old James Coburn movie, but what the title had to do with the plot escapes me.
: Plot Summary for Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round
: Involved crime drama about an intricate plan to rob an airport bank. Watch for the surprise ending and look quickly for a barely-recognizable Harrison Ford in his film debut, playing a bellhop. Summary written by Brett England

Regarding "tie", I've always presumed that this stemmed from the two contestants/teams being inseparable in terms of prowess or skill - and being inseparable, they are figuratively "tied". I've got precisely zero back-up to support this belief.