How should I analyse the following sentence?

They have been backed at short odds to win thousands of pounds.

Which of the following versions is the most accurate understanding (or would there be a more accurate version)?

  1. They have been backed (by someone or some wish) to win money at short odds.

  2. They have been supported by short odds to win the money

  3. They have been very likely to win the money.

2 Answers 2


It means that
- a gambler (perhaps more than one) has backed them (a team?) to win
- the bet was placed at 'short' odds (which means that the team is reasonably likely to win, as opposed to long odds, which would mean that a win is perceived as rather unlikely)
- the size of the bet was sufficiently large that if the bet was successful, the profit for the gambler would be thousands of pounds.

  • Who would won the money according to this sentence?
    – dennylv
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 8:26
  • 2
    That is not yet known, as the result of the event is not given. If the team wins, the person placing the bet will win money; if the team loses, the person (or betting company) accepting the bet will keep the stake money.
    – toandfro
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 8:31

First, "short odds" means the favorite. "Long odds" means the underdog.

"Backed" means that an "investor" is putting up the money for the bet.

So the whole phrase means, "They are considered favorites to win a bet worth thousands of pounds by someone else who has put up the money.

The implication is that an investor is putting up most, if not all of the money, and the parties being "backed" are putting up the "performance" (e.g. a horse and his trainer) that will win or lose the bet. The profits (if any) will be split between the backer and performer in some predetermined fashion, while the backer will absorb all the losses.

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