Definition of underdog in English:



  • 1A competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest.

    • ‘The underdogs in any fight usually prepare body and mind meticulously before stepping into the ring.’
    • ‘In his lifetime, he became a symbol of courage to a deprived country, the underdog in all his fights and still coming out on top.’
    • ‘Denis was the underdog, but the tide of the fight soon turned against the heavily favored Suzuki.’
    • ‘We are all on the same side, underdogs fighting against social and environmental oppression.’
    • ‘He went into the fight as the underdog and came out 15 rounds later as the world champion on points, with the judges split two to one.’
    • ‘We were certainly the underdogs in this competition, Jess, and it's not really a surprise we didn't win.’
    • ‘We go into the game as underdogs but it's a great opportunity for the players to go out and enjoy the game.’
    • ‘We will be huge underdogs in the quarter-finals but we have nothing to lose’
    • ‘Going into the match as underdogs, his concern was to compete effectively against the champions.’
    • ‘It's always enjoyable to watch a story where an underdog has to fight incredible odds to win.’
    • ‘Then even the most tired plot device of all can work: the underdog fighting all odds to win.’
    • ‘The thing is though, there's more than one way to win a football match, as underdogs have proved time and again over the years.’
    • ‘In sports, it's fun to root for the underdog because of the small chance that he can knock off a superstar.’
    • ‘A gentleman genius, who fought for the underdog and played truly inspirational music.’
    • ‘You were the underdog in this fight, at least to those people who didn't really know you as a boxer.’
    • ‘Isn't this the band of underdogs that won over America with grit and determination?’
    • ‘Hopefully we will continue to be supported, though people have to remember that, even after two victories, we are still underdogs in every game.’
    • ‘We have always been big underdogs in the derby games and more often than not we have gone into the game worrying about them rather than concentrating on our own strengths.’
    • ‘We went into this game as complete underdogs but produced a performance of grit and determination in true championship fashion.’
    • ‘My vote was giving the underdog a chance; it was a sympathy vote.’
    weaker party, victim, prey
    loser, scapegoat
    little fellow, little guy, fall guy, stooge
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A person who has little status in society.
      • ‘Despite the instant attention they got in the UK, they enjoyed their underdog status in the US.’
      • ‘Maybe it's because he's an underdog living in an well-adjusted, mentally balanced society.’
      • ‘Americans love success stories, especially tales of underdogs who overcome all odds to achieve success by their own efforts.’
      • ‘Everyone loves an underdog, and this movie has a quartet of them.’
      • ‘Moore didn't allow her political underdog status to stop her from throwing her hat into the campaign ring.’
      • ‘As a champion of the underdog, what would she say about how society has dealt with the gap between the haves and the have nots of this world?’
      • ‘The nation loves to see an underdog fighting back.’


Late 19th century: with reference to the beaten dog in a dogfight.