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butt ugly

slang Thoroughly unattractive. Kids can be so cruel—just last week one of my students called another one butt ugly!
See also: butt, ugly

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

be (as) ugly as sin

To be extremely visually displeasing or unattractive. I wouldn't buy that painting, it's ugly as sin. I heard the date didn't go well and that the guy was as ugly as sin.
See also: sin, ugly

raise its (ugly) head

Of a difficult, unpleasant problem, to present itself and force people to deal with it. Fundamentalist extremism has been raising its head all around the world over the last couple years. I can't believe tax day is already raising its ugly head again.
See also: head, raise

rear its (ugly) head

Of a difficult, unpleasant problem, to present itself and force people to deal with it. Fundamentalist extremism has been rearing its head all around the world over the last couple years. I can't believe tax day is already rearing its ugly head again.
See also: head, rear

win ugly

To achieve victory after putting in a lot of effort and unglamorous technique and enduring many hardships or overcoming many obstacles. (As opposed to winning with ease, grace, or style.) After falling behind by 12 points early on, the heavyweight grappler had to claw his way back to a last-second victory. "I won ugly, but a win is a win," he said after the match.
See also: ugly, win

rear its ugly head

Fig. [for something unpleasant] to appear or become obvious after lying hidden. Jealousy reared its ugly head and destroyed their marriage. The question of money always rears its ugly head in matters of business.
See also: head, rear, ugly

*ugly as a toad

[of a living creature] very ugly. (*Also:as ~.) Maria may be a beautiful woman, but when she was a child she was as ugly as a toad. The shopkeeper was ugly as a toad, but he was kind and generous, and everyone loved him.
See also: toad, ugly

*ugly as sin

Cliché extremely ugly. (*Also: as ~.) Why would anyone want to buy that dress? It's as ugly as sin! Harold is ugly as sin, but his personality is very charming.
See also: sin, ugly

rear its ugly head

Appear. This phrase is used only of something undesirable or unpleasant, as in The interview went very well until a question about his academic record reared its ugly head . This expression was first recorded in slightly different form in Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers (1857): "Rebellion had already reared her hideous head."
See also: head, rear, ugly

ugly as sin

Physically or morally hideous, as in I can't think why she likes that dog; it's ugly as sin. This simile, first recorded in 1801, replaced the earlier ugly as the devil.
See also: sin, ugly

ugly customer

An ill-natured or vicious individual, as in Watch out for Charlie when he's drinking; he can be an ugly customer. This phrase uses ugly in the sense of "mean" or "dangerous." [c. 1800]
See also: customer, 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

ugly as sin

If someone or something is as ugly as sin, they are very ugly. Even his kids were ugly as sin.
See also: sin, 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

win ugly

gain victory through solid application and hard work rather than elegantly and with apparent effortlessness.
The phrase gained popularity as the title of the book Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis ( 1993 ) by the Australian tennis coach Brad Gilbert and Steve Jamison .
2005 Croydon Guardian Manager Bob Langford said he was happy to ‘win ugly’ to ensure Ryman Division One safety.
See also: ugly, win

(as) miserable/ugly as ˈsin

(spoken) used to emphasize that somebody is very unhappy or ugly: He arrived at the party looking as miserable as sin.Some babies are as ugly as sin at that age.
See also: miserable, sin, 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

(as) ugly as sin

mod. very ugly. This car’s as ugly as sin, but it’s cheap and dependable.
See also: sin, ugly

ugly as sin

See also: sin, ugly


mod. very ugly. (Usually objectionable.) That is the most butt-ugly car I’ve ever seen.


(ˈkɑɪot ˈəgli and ˈkɑɪoti ˈəgli)
mod. extremely ugly. (see also double-bagger, triple-bagger. Supposedly, if one woke up and found one’s arm around a coyote-ugly person, one would chew off one’s arm—in the manner of a coyote escaping from a steel-jaw trap—rather than pull it back away from this person.) Is that your pet monkey, or is your date just coyote-ugly?

hit by the ugly stick

mod. made to be very ugly. She is so lame. Looks like she was hit by the ugly stick till it broke!
See also: hit, stick, ugly


mod. very ugly. (see also pug-ugly.) Your dog is just plug-ugly!


1. mod. having to do with a very ugly person. What a pug-ugly cat you have there!
2. n. a very ugly person. (Also a rude term of address.) Hey, pug-ugly, try plastic surgery!
References in periodicals archive ?
The fear that it is not the arrow of the beautiful that brings us into the presence of truth, after all, but instead that falsehood, ugliness and vulgarity might actually be the truth has in every age caused people anguish.
Adam's paintings reveal at once the powerful mutilated beast in mankind, and the disgusting ugliness of beauty.
The poets of this century, indeed, assign the "negative" aesthetic category of ugliness to the "old guardian" of a younger and attractive woman, to the "witch," and to the "'prostitute.
Ugliness has rather been unjustly kept out of our critical attention, in its simplific assessment as an antonym of beauty.
In the midst of ugliness are the tiny lights of fireflies, which Ellie sees.
If you had wondered what ugliness would spring from the drawnout debate over Mexican immigration, here it was.
Or else he reflects their own inner ugliness and earns hatred.
Matthew Shepard's friends blocked Phelps's ugliness with white sheets shaped into angel wings.
In 1972, aged twenty-four, Stephen Shore got into his car with a 35 mm Rollei camera and began a nearly two-year drive around the country taking pictures of an American culture at an impasse between abundance and ugliness.
It is this interdependence (not only of beauty and laughter, but of ugliness and tears) that Okantah brings to the fore ground in his small tome of poems.
The focus on skating, and only skating, together with sharp, intense pictures and witty articles and columns, makes Thrasher a monolith of free press and raw action, standing against a sea of complex ugliness that is reality.
Processed food, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, and office or factory work all inspired a sense of drudgery that seemed to force human bodies to perform in unnatural ways to the extent that obesity, ugliness, and early decay were increasingly becoming the norm.
An impressive compilaton of short stories by Marianne Villanueva, Mayor Of The Roses showcases an original literary talent as the reader encounters Philippine society in all of its beauty and ugliness, hope and sorrow, courage and violence, as well as the myriad contradictions of immigrant life in the new landscapes of America.
I'm selfish and I can't bear mess and ugliness and those things come hand-in-hand with children.
She based her play on Sergey Aksakov's 19th century retelling of a folktale about how fearless love transforms ugliness into beauty.