can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

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can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

Be unable to turn something ugly or inferior into something attractive or of value, as in No matter how expensive his clothes, he still looks sloppy-you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear . This expression was already a proverb in the mid-1500s.
See also: ear, make, of, out, purse, silk

you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

If you say you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, you mean that it is impossible to make something very successful or of high quality out of something which is unsuccessful or of poor quality. He did his best to coach the team but you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Note: People often vary this expression. It takes more than a good swimming pool and an indoor tennis court or two to make a sow's ear of a resort into a silk purse. Afterwards, Kendall made no attempt to describe this sow's ear as a silk purse. Note: A sow is a female pig, and the ears of a pig are regarded as the least useful body parts when the animal is slaughtered.
See also: ear, make, of, out, purse, silk
References in periodicals archive ?
QPR boss Ian Holloway fumed: "I cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
But to create the clarity of the space, and allow its very complex interconnections, to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear of a site, and to relate structure and climate control in such an satisfactory way shows architectural and engineering skills of a very high order.
Potter, concluded with the comment that "the Court does not believe that justice demands that the Plaintiff be allowed to prolong the litigation of obviously frivolous claims, and at great expense to the Defendants in order to try again to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
However, any intelligent person will see through this Sisyphean attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Here's where the old maxim, 'You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear' applies perfectly.
I can't just go blindly in thinking, by the sheer power of your charisma or massive talents, you'll be able to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.