- a person who leads in any competition.
- an entrant in a race who breaks to the front immediately and establishes the pace for the field.
- an entrant in a race who performs well only when ahead of the field.
- informal the leader or a favoured contestant in a race, election, etc
also front-runner, of political candidates, 1908, American English, a metaphor from horse racing (where it is used by 1903 of a horse that runs best while in the lead).