ugly duckling

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ugly duckling

A person or thing once considered unattractive or unlikely to succeed that becomes beautiful or successful in time. The phrase refers to Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale of an ugly duckling that grows up to be a beautiful swan. The phrase can apply to physical appearance or to the level of success of something. I thought that fledgling company would dissolve in months. No one foresaw that it was just an ugly duckling and would have great success. Mary went unnoticed in high school but she's gorgeous now—a real ugly duckling!
See also: duckling, ugly

ugly duckling

A homely or unpromising individual who grows into an attractive or talented person, as in She was the family ugly duckling but blossomed in her twenties. This term alludes to Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale about a cygnet hatched with ducklings that is despised for its clumsiness until it grows up into a beautiful swan. The tale was first translated into English in 1846, and the term was used figuratively by 1871.
See also: duckling, ugly

an ugly duckling

a young person who turns out to be beautiful or talented against all expectations.
The Ugly Duckling is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen in which the ‘ugly duckling’, mocked and jeered at by his peers, eventually develops into a beautiful swan.
See also: duckling, ugly

an ˌugly ˈduckling

(informal) a person or thing that at first does not seem attractive or likely to succeed but that later becomes successful or much admired: He’s got the looks of a film star now, but he was a real ugly duckling as a child.This comes from a children’s story by Hans Christian Andersen, in which a young swan is raised with ducklings. They have to stop teasing him about his ugliness when he grows into a beautiful swan.
See also: duckling, ugly
References in periodicals archive ?
The Ugly Duckling trying to make some froggy friends
After Mills choreographed The Ugly Duckling for Ballet Nouveau Colorado in 2005, the company worked with the anti-bullying organization Creating Caring Communities to transform the ballet into an interactive performance to take into schools throughout the Denver area.
There was excellent agreement on the ugly duckling sign among observers.
Send entries to The Ugly Duckling and Me DVD Competition, c/o Suzanne Jackson, Editorial, Coventry Telegraph, Corporation Street, Coventry CV1 1FP.
Northern Ballet is the latest company to fall for the charms of Hans Christian Andersen's story of the Ugly Duckling.
Call 0845 226 3510 3 The Ugly Duckling Follow the Ugly Duckling on his eventful journey.
The Ugly Duckling Dinosaur: A Prehistoric Tale receives Doug Kennedy's engaging drawings as it tells of the ancestor of the modern day duck who awaits the hatching of her eggs.
In January, 4,100 students saw Ballet Nouveau Colorado's ballet The Ugly Duckling as part of BNC's "Ugly Duckling Anti-Bullying Program.
Hans Christian Anderson's much loved The Ugly Duckling will be performed at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre on Sunday.
Chicken Little's best friend, the ugly duckling Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack, fine as always), tells her feathered friend that he'll never find redemption until he resolves his father issues.
Even though I would class Jim as the ugly duckling of the Corr family, he was still surrounded by a gang of star-struck women.
Students from St Illtyd's Catholic High School in Cardiff will take to the stage this week with their production of Honk - the musical version of the Ugly Duckling.
It's well known the ugly duckling turned into a beautiful swan.
Call 01792 475715 5 The Ugly Ducklings Dancing Cabaret An improbable encounter between The Ugly Duckling and Princess Odette from Swan Lake is the inspiration behind this well-paced, vibrant and vigorous dance suitable for children aged four and above.
is a children's picturebook rendition of the classic story of the ugly duckling, who has difficulty fitting in until he grows up to become a beautiful swan.
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