hold a candle to, not

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hold a candle to, not

Also, not fit to or cannot hold a candle to. Be inferior to someone or something, as in This hotel can't hold a candle to the Palace, or This new friend of his is not fit to hold a candle to his former buddies. This expression was already a proverb in John Heywood's collection of 1546 and alludes to holding a candle to provide light for someone, at that time considered a menial chore.
See also: candle, hold, not
References in classic literature ?
The next day at three o'clock we were again at the door, and the footmen as before; we heard the silk dress rustle and the lady came down the steps, and in an imperious voice she said, "York, you must put those horses' heads higher; they are not fit to be seen.
We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country--its mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps.
This tree seemed to bear all the year around, for there were lunch-box blossoms on some of the branches, and on others tiny little lunch-boxes that were as yet quite green, and evidently not fit to eat until they had grown bigger.
I wish I could so easily forget his ingratitude to the best of benefactors; and yet even that I hope you will forgive him, since he must have certainly been possessed with the devil: for that very evening, as Mr Thwackum and myself were taking the air in the fields, and exulting in the good symptoms which then first began to discover themselves, we unluckily saw him engaged with a wench in a manner not fit to be mentioned.
The man is really not fit to work, so we were very glad indeed to pass him on to her.
I am not fit to be a member of your household, I am not worthy to live with the honest people who serve you, while my innocence is in doubt.
Thick skin is, indeed, our moral clothes, and without it we are not fit to be seen about in civilized society.
Carey said that if Josiah Graves set foot in what was little better than a heathen temple he was not fit to be churchwarden in a Christian parish.
Since you ask me," continued Prince Andrew, becoming irritable- as he was always liable to do of late- "I can only say that if there are any misunderstandings they are caused by that worthless woman, who is not fit to be my sister's companion.
As soon as he grabs me the rest of you can slip past him, out of his reach, and he will soon let me go because I am not fit to eat.
Turn your back to the door--your cowardly face is not fit to be seen
He said I was not fit to teach children, or to be with them: I had already reduced the boy to little better than an automaton; I had broken his fine spirit with my rigid severity; and I should freeze all the sunshine out of his heart, and make him as gloomy an ascetic as myself, if I had the handling of him much longer.
No, he's not fit: he's not fit to play football, unfortunately," said Redknapp of the 25-yearold, who has only featured three times this season due to ankle problems.
No, he's not fit: he's not fit to play football, unfortunately," said Redknapp of the 25-year-old, who has only featured three times this season due to ankle problems.