'Black horse' vs 'jack in the pack' OR perhaps: Dark horse vs Joker in the pack?

  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    As far as normal English is concerned, these two are completely different.

    If you were to give some context, it is just possible that we might be able to help.


    I meant in regards to human... as a description of one.

    oops, I just noticed. I meant not the 'black horse', but the 'dark horse'. Btw, what are the differences between these two horses :)


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I agree more context would be helpful.

    I've not heard of "jack in the pack." I suppose it alludes to a card deck.

    "Dark horse" is an idiomatic expression used to describe someone who unexpectedly achieves success. It comes from horse racing.

    John Smith was a true dark horse in the 2000 election, having neither major financial backing, nor overwhelming party support. His come-from-behind win proved that voters were looking for a fresh face and new ideas.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Maybe you mean the joker in the pack, not the jack in the pack?

    The joker in the pack will do something completely unexpected.

    Now you are looking for the difference between a dark horse and a joker in the pack - and that is a good question. There are considerable similarities.

    I'll change the thread title and no doubt you will soon get helpful answers:)


    oooooooh, I'm sorry again. you're right :) it was joker in the pack... something wrong with me today... I guess it's monday and rainy weather :)


    My friend and I were talking about this and that today, and she turned to be this dark horse in one matter. So I said to her, and she replied that she never heard such an expression... But I was sure that there is such an idiom. So I've looked for it in my dictionary, and found it. It means exactly what GenJen54 said. Among it's synonyms was that 'joker in the pack'... hence the question about differences came :)

    ps. There was one more synonym for this - 'obscurity'... yet I never heard somebody using it... what would it mean in regards to a person?


    Senior Member
    USA English
    Joker in the pack: someone or something that could change a situation in a way that you do not expect. The independent candidate is the joker in the pack in this election. http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/joker+in+the+pack

    Dark horse :
    1. a person who does not tell other people about their ideas or skills and who surprises people by doing something that they do not expect. I didn't know Linda had written a novel. She's a bit of a dark horse, isn't she?
    2. a person who wins a race or competition although no one expected them to. 17-year-old Karen Pickering could also be a dark horse for (= she could win) a medal in the European Championships. (sometimes + for)

    I think these definitions help clarify it. A dark horse has an affect on his or her own results. A joke in the pack could affect the result for others and does not always affect themselves.
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