a shot in the dark


a shot in the dark


  • a guess without much information or certainty.
  • an action with an unpredictable result.
  • trying something without having all the necessary facts or details.
  • taking a risk without a clear understanding of the potential outcomes.
  • an action that has a low probability of success or seems random.
  • to find something without a clear idea of where it might be.

Example Sentences

  1. It’s hard to tell the time without a clock, but I’ll take a shot in the dark and say it’s past midnight.
  2. I don’t have the map, but I’ll take a shot in the dark and try to find the restaurant on my own.
  3. Submitting my story to the competition is a bit of a shot in the dark, but who knows? Maybe they’ll like it.
  4. Driving on that narrow road in the fog felt like taking a shot in the dark; I could barely see anything.
  5. I can’t remember where I left my glasses, so I’ll take a shot in the dark and check the kitchen.


Dating back to the late 18th century, the idiom “shot in the dark” refers to guesswork or an attempt made without much knowledge or certainty. Although the exact source or person who coined this term isn’t definitively known, George Bernard Shaw used the term in his writing called “The Saturday Review.” In his 1895 writing, the phrase drew its expression from the idea of firing a gun into the darkness without a specific target in sight. The main idea was that it would hit something by chance. The phrase likely evolved organically within language usage, becoming a part of everyday speech over time.
As the phrase evolved, other alternatives and variants were born. Similar phrases like “a leap in the dark,” “hazard a guess,” “wild guess,” “go out on a limb,” “Hail Mary,” and “long shot” convey comparable ideas of uncertainty and chance.
Its enduring popularity suggests that people have long identified with the concept of uncertainty and the gamble involved in taking blind chances. In various fields like sports, business, or everyday decision-making, the phrase encapsulates the risk and unpredictability that sometimes accompany choices.
So, while the specific origin remains somewhat mysterious, “shot in the dark” continues to be a vivid expression, sharply capturing the idea of taking a chance with minimal information or guidance, relying mostly on luck or fate.

Share your opinions1 Opinion

I enjoy reading your posts a lot!

Regarding “a shot in the dark”, I feel that a quite significant part of its meaning is that there is an element of risk and / or danger involved. This is, of course the risk / danger of accidentally shooting (and hitting) the wrong target. Ironically, it seems to have no *intended* target at all. It is merely a matter of shooting for the sake of hitting *something* … virtually regardless of what is actually hit / shot.

‒ NMW November 21, 2023

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