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    • Join Date: Sep 2006
    • Posts: 150

    "in the _______ stakes"

    News headline: "Kiwis overtake Poms to lead Aussie migration stakes"

    "The former leaders in the permanent settler stakes, the UK, held steady at 23,223 arrivals."

    Teachers: How would you explain the meaning and use of the word "stakes" in these sentences? I can't find any reference to this kind of phrase in online dictionaries, although it's something that is fairly common in journalistic English.

    "Stakes" seems to be synonymous with "category" in the second sentence, but I don't know if the word relates to gambling stakes or to "staking a claim".

    Anyone have any ideas?

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 19,434

    Re: "in the _______ stakes"

    "gambling stakes" is the underlying concept - a migrant gambles on moving from one place to another.

    • Join Date: Sep 2006
    • Posts: 150

    Re: "in the _______ stakes"

    Thanks. But I've seen this phrase in other newspaper articles where a gambling connection is harder to discern. For instance:

    (in an article about a poll on which nation has the most contented population)
    "Australians lead the world in the "very happy" stakes."

    I'm finding it very hard to come up with an adequate explanation of this type of phrase. Do you think it's enough just to tell students that "stakes" in this context means "grouping" or "category"?

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 7

    Re: "in the _______ stakes"

    I know I'm only a student but wouldn't "stakes" in this context mean race? As in a race - horse race and so on?


    • Join Date: Sep 2006
    • Posts: 150

    Re: "in the _______ stakes"


    You're absolutely right. Thank you very much.

    According to the Free Dictionary: A race offering a prize to the winner, especially a horserace in which the prize consists of money contributed equally by the horse owners.

    I need to update my dictionary bookmarks and start using that one.

  1. BobK's Avatar
    Harmless drudge
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
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      • UK
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    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 16,037

    Re: "in the _______ stakes"

    You're looking in the right direction with horse-racing. Many horse races are called "The so-and-so Stakes". This allowed the coining of the idiom "in the X stakes" in contexts that have nothing to do with horses: 'After three divorces, I guess you could say I've been a bit of a failure in the marriage stakes'. Your original quote was saying that New Zealanders (Kiwis) had surpassed Englishmen (Poms) in migration to Australia.


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