take a shot in the dark: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘take a shot in the dark’ mean?

The idiom "take a shot in the dark" means to make a guess or attempt something without any knowledge or information. It implies a lack of certainty or confidence in the outcome.

Idiom Explorer


The idiom "take a shot in the dark" is a commonly used phrase that means making a guess or attempting something without much information or certainty.

One interesting fact about this idiom is that it is often used figuratively rather than literally. While the phrase "take a shot" refers to shooting a firearm, in this idiom, it is used metaphorically to represent a person's attempt at something with little or no knowledge or evidence to support their decision.

Another fascinating aspect of this idiom is its origin, which is believed to date back to the late 19th century. Although the exact origin is uncertain, the phrase can be found in various forms across different cultures and languages, indicating its widespread usage and recognition.

Furthermore, "take a shot in the dark" is a phrase commonly used in everyday conversations as well as in written language. It conveys the idea of taking a chance or making a random guess when faced with a difficult or uncertain situation. People often use this phrase to acknowledge that their action may not yield the desired result, but they are willing to try nonetheless.

Additionally, it is worth noting that this idiom is often accompanied by other expressions that convey a similar meaning. For example, phrases such as "take a wild guess" or "take a stab at it" are often used interchangeably to express the act of making an uncertain attempt or prediction. These variations highlight the flexible and adaptable nature of idiomatic language in conveying abstract concepts.

I took a shot in the dark to guess her age.

Overall, the idiom "take a shot in the dark" is a widely recognized expression that signifies making an attempt or guess without much certainty or information. Its figurative usage and prevalence in everyday communication underscore its relevance and applicability in various situations. Despite its vague origin, this idiom has stood the test of time and continues to be an integral part of the English language. Its presence in our linguistic repertoire epitomizes the human inclination to take risks and embrace uncertainty, leaving room for endless possibilities.

In addition to the idiom "take a shot in the dark," there are two other related idioms that carry a similar meaning: "shot in the dark" and "take a gamble."

The phrase "shot in the dark" is often used to describe a guess or attempt made without any real expectation of success. It conveys a sense of uncertainty and risk, similar to the idiom "take a shot in the dark."

"Take a stab at" is another idiom commonly used to mean making a guess or attempt at something. It also conveys a sense of uncertainty and implies that the person making the attempt is not entirely confident in their abilities or knowledge.

Lastly, "take a gamble" is an idiomatic expression used to indicate taking a risk or making a decision with an uncertain outcome. This idiomatic phrase emphasizes the notion of chance and the acceptance of potential losses or unfavorable results.

The idioms "shot in the dark," "take a stab at," and "take a gamble" are all related to the phrase "take a shot in the dark." They all share a common theme of making guesses or attempts without much information or certainty. These idiomatic expressions capture the human inclination to take risks, embrace uncertainty, and explore new possibilities.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "take a shot in the dark" can be used in a sentence:

  • She was unsure about the answer to the question, so she decided to take a shot in the dark and guess.
  • Without any information or clues, he had to take a shot in the dark and choose a random option.
  • The detective had no leads, so he had to take a shot in the dark and interview a potential witness.

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