“Some of baseball’s most noteworthy achievements have been tainted by allegations of steroid use … [such as] Rafael Palmeiro’s virtual shoe-in Hall of Fame career.”
So close to admission that his shoe is already inside, eh? No. A candidate or competitor who is certain to succeed is a shoo-in. Random House says the expression dates from the late 1940s, but that was really when it went straight and made a new life for itself.
According to Safire’s Political Dictionary, shoo-in has a racing background, and a shady one at that. “When jockeys form a ‘ring’ and bet on a single horse, they hold back their own mounts and ‘chase in’ or ‘shoo in’ the horse selected to be the winner. ‘Racing Maxims and Methods of Pittsburgh Phil’, published in 1908, points out: ‘There were many times presumably that Tod would win through such manipulations, being “shooed in,” as it were. In ‘The Underworld Speaks’ (1935), A. J. Pollack defines shoo-in as ‘a horse race in which the winner is the only horse trying.’ ”
It was in the 1940s that the word began to be used in politics, but without its crooked connotation, meaning only “sure thing.”
“Taft Appears to Be Shoo-in for Top Senate Job” the San Francisco News headlined in 1948, and that same year Life predicted “Dewey looks like a shoo-in for the presidency.”
A judge and a college professor both questioned a headline on an Arkansas Times column June 8 — “Who do they represent?” Both suggest that who should be whom, and strictly speaking, they are correct. But in actual usage, there’s been a trend away from whom for years, and many people believe it sounds pretentious today. Others think that figuring out whether who or whom is correct requires more effort than they want to expend. Success With Words recommends a middle course between those who always use whom and those who never do: “Use whom in highly formal contexts such as academic theses and ceremonial speeches, but ignore it in everyday talk. Where you draw the line in, say, business correspondence or reportage is a matter of personal style.”
Bo Diddly’s style didn’t allow him to sing “Whom Do You Love?”.