- (idiomatic, UK, informal) A situation in which victory has little or no value, but defeat has a huge cost.
- Can be used to describe any contested outcome.
From horse racing, hiding (“beating”); to (“as used to express gambling odds”), ie, 6 to 1. Literally, the phrase can be described as to bet on a contest whose outcome is at worst a beating, or at best nothing. A heavily favored team in a sporting contest earns no credit for victory, but is shamed by defeat; this team is said to be on a hiding to nothing.