At the Baftas last night, Inception won “an accolade it was a shoo-in for: special visual effects.” (We’ve got it from LoveFilm, so I’ll be able to verify that soon).

I keep seeing ‘shoo-in’, and wonder where it comes from. I never use it, myself.

Well, according to various sources, it’s an American racetrack term from 1928: a’shoo-in’ was a horse that was expected to win a race because the race was fixed. The horse would win even if it had to be ‘shooed’ to the finish line. It lost the rigged connotations, and now just means a sure winner. The word ‘shoo’ is an instinctive word that has been used since the late 15th century, if not before.