Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to black sheep: Black Sheep of the Family
the black sheep
One who is unlike other members of a family, group, or organization, sometimes due to intentional rebelliousness, and often viewed unfavorably by them. (Sometimes used in the expanded phrase "the black sheep of the family.") Everyone likes me because I'm so quiet and obedient. The same cannot be said for my wild cousin Nathan, who's been the black sheep since we were kids. The studio is proving to be quite the black sheep among the movie industry, making big-budget films that fly in the face of Hollywood's conventions.
The least reputable member of a group; a disgrace. For example, Uncle Fritz was the black sheep of the family; we always thought he emigrated to Argentina to avoid jail . This metaphor is based on the idea that black sheep were less valuable than white ones because it was more difficult to dye their wool different colors. Also, in the 16th century, their color was considered the devil's mark. By the 18th century the term was widely used as it is today, for the odd member of a group.
the black sheepor
the black sheep of the family
COMMON If you describe someone as the black sheep or the black sheep of the family, you mean that the other people in their family disapprove of them and consider their behaviour to be bad. `I was always the black sheep,' he says. `Everyone else stayed in New Jersey but I was the one to go.' My uncle was the black sheep of the family and we were never encouraged to talk about him. Note: Black sheep are less valuable than white sheep since their wool cannot be dyed. In addition, people used to associate the colour black with evil.
the black sheepa person considered to have brought discredit upon a family or other group; a bad character.
A disreputable or unloved family member. Since the majority of domestic sheep have white fleece, a black one would be different from the rest of the flock. And because the word “black” has a historically strong negative connotation, one of that color would be unwanted (in real life, sheep farmers don't like them because black fleece, which can't be dyed, is less commercially valuable). In the age of politically correct speech, the phrase is now infrequently used, and that's not because family members now get along in greater harmony than they once did.