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Posted by RRC on May 06, 2008 at 20:22

In Reply to: Shoe-in posted by R. Berg on May 06, 2008 at 17:40:

: : Where does the phrase 'shoe-in' come from, as in, he's a shoe-in to win?

: This word is spelled "shoo-in." Animals are shooed into their pen, shooed out of the kitchen--wherever--with a hand gesture and the utterance "Shoo! Shoo!" "Shoo-in" comes from the idea that the predicted winner will approach the finish line so far ahead of his competitors (think of a footrace) that he can safely stand still for a moment and wait to be nudged across. ~rb

Word Detective says:
"According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of the term in print dates back to 1928, and the original sense of the term was not as innocent as you'd think. A "shoo in" was originally a horse that was expected to win a race, not by virtue of its speed or endurance, but because the race was fixed. The sardonic "subtext" of the original usage, now lost, was that the designated horse would win even if it were so lackadaisical in its performance that it simply wandered somehow up to the finish line and had to be "shooed in" to victory."

  • Word Detective (Waving at Stray Animals) half way down the page