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Meaning: a sporting event involving horse-racing, usually with young horses; some other kind of race, for example bicycle derby

For example:

  • We are watching a motorcycle derby this weekend.

  • I am betting on an unlikely winner for the Kentucky Derby.

Note: A derby may also refer to a stiff felt hat. The hats became fashionable in America because shoppers were told that the British wore these types of hats at the horse races.

Origin: In 1780, Edward Smith-Stanley (1752-1834), the 12th Earl of Derby, and his friends organized a race between their three-year-old horses at Epsom Downs in England. A prize was offered for the winner. This race of three-year-old horses became an annual event and is today one of Britain's most important national sporting events. The Kentucky Derby and the French Derby are famous horse races in the USA and France respectively.

Quick Quiz:

What happens at the horse derby?

a. The cars go as fast as they can.

b. Young horses race around a track.

c. People buy expensive hats.

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Contributor: Tara Benwell