a poor relation

poor relation

A less desirable substitute for the genuine item. The cheap motorcycle jacket I bought is nice, but it is a poor relation of actual leather.
See also: poor, relation

a poor relation

If you describe one thing as a poor relation of another, you mean that it is similar in some ways but not as good or as popular. Watercolour still seems somehow to be the poor relation of oil painting. Grapes for the table have become the poor relation of those used by the wine trade.
See also: poor, relation

a poor reˈlation

somebody/something with less importance, respect or power than others: At the peace conference, our country was treated very much as the poor relation.
See also: poor, relation
References in classic literature ?
The amiable old gentleman, it seemed, had intended to leave the whole to the Royal Humane Society, and had indeed executed a will to that effect; but the Institution, having been unfortunate enough, a few months before, to save the life of a poor relation to whom he paid a weekly allowance of three shillings and sixpence, he had, in a fit of very natural exasperation, revoked the bequest in a codicil, and left it all to Mr Godfrey Nickleby; with a special mention of his indignation, not only against the society for saving the poor relation's life, but against the poor relation also, for allowing himself to be saved.
What the nature of his claim on her might be seemed less intelligible -- unless it was the claim of a poor relation.
Of these, foremost in the front rank stands Volumnia Dedlock, a young lady (of sixty) who is doubly highly related, having the honour to be a poor relation, by the mother's side, to another great family.
Thrifty, who is good, wise, just, and owes no man a penny, turns from a beggar, haggles with a hackney-coachman, or denies a poor relation, and I doubt which is the most selfish of the two.
Certain speculations followed, referring to a poor relation of the family--one Miss Clack, whom I have mentioned in my account of the birthday dinner, as sitting next to Mr.
If you are going to throw away a hundred guineas or so, I am as poor as a poor relation of great people usually is, and I shall be very much obliged to you, if you'll throw them away upon me.