idiom: not by a long shot

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Today’s idiom is “not by a long shot”, and it is used when we want to talk about a competition between two or more people or groups and we think one of them has no chance of winning. For example:

A: Do you think the Giants will win the baseball game against the Red Sox?

B: No, not by a long shot! The Red Sox are a much better team, and they’ve won every game this season!

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A: Do you think Colin will get the promotion?

B: Not by a long shot! He’s only been working here for a year, and he still has a lot to learn.

The new movie directed by Sam Peters is nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, but it won’t win by a long shot.

I’m going to play tennis with my friend this afternoon, but she used to be a professional player, so I won’t win by a long shot.

As you can see from my examples, we can either use this expression as a response to someone’s question, as in the first two examples, or we can make a sentence with it using “won’t win by a long shot”.

In this expression, I think “long shot” represents a slight chance of winning, so when we say “not by a long shot”, we mean that even a slight chance of winning doesn’t exist.

We can also use it when we want to say that a certain situation is not even close to being finished yet. For example:

A: Do you think the storm is over now?

B: Not by a long shot! These storms usually last for at least 12 hours.

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A: Do you think your mother is finished being mad at you?

B: Not by a long shot! She’ll stay angry for at least another three or four days!

I may not have gotten promoted yet, but this isn’t over, not by a long shot! I’ll keep working hard until I get a promotion.

My daughter asked me to buy her a computer. I said no, but I know her and this isn’t over by a long shot. She’ll keep asking me until I say yes.

Again, this expression can be used as a response, as in the first two examples, or in a separate sentence, as in the last two examples.

In this case, “long shot” represents the chance that something is over. So, in this case, the expression means that there is no chance that something is over.

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