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There are multiple origin stories for this phrasewhich can appear by itself a long shot or in the negative form not by a long shot. One origin story relates the expression to early firearms, which were not accurate at long distances.

According to this theory, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a long shot has a literal shoy, a shot from a long range. By the late 19th century, the term had been transferred to other improbable circumstances, such as a Long shot i know guess and unlikely betting odds.

This is where our second origin story comes into play, where long shot specifically meant a bet that had a low chance of winning. This theory postulates that the phrase originated in gambling over horse races. Another term for this was long odds.

By the s, the meaning of a long shot had expanded to mean anything that seemed unlikely. A similar expression is not by Long shot i know long shotwhich means not at allnot even close or not even a tiny chance.

There is a possibility that not by a long shot came from mishearing the British expression not by a long chalk. This has the same meaning but comes from a game Shhot darts, in which the highest score on the scoreboard has the highest amount of chalk marks.

In the first example, two employees are talking together about the possibility of getting a raise. All the employees are having performance reviews this week.

Are you nervous? I have gotten very good feedback from clients, and I am meeting all of my goals. Long shot i know only know of one other employee who has gotten a raise at this company since I started working here.

In the second example, a husband and wife are discussing the whereabouts of some jewelry that went missing. I seriously doubt that. She has worked for us for over 20 years!

Why would she suddenly steal something from us? This excerpt is from an article about the Mayan civilization and how Spanish conquistadors destroyed all but four of the books written by Mayans.

In this example, by a long shot means by a great amount. This excerpt is about new political candidates, who may have had no chance of winning a few years ago, but now have a small chance.

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The idiom a long shot means highly unlikely.