Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
slang Thoroughly unattractive. Kids can be so cruel—just last week one of my students called another one butt ugly!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.
*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.
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."
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.
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]
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.
ugly as sin
If someone or something is as ugly as sin, they are very ugly. Even his kids were ugly as sin.
an ugly ducklinga 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.
win uglygain 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.
(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.
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.
(as) ugly as sin
mod. very ugly. This car’s as ugly as sin, but it’s cheap and dependable.
ugly as sinverb
See as ugly as sin
mod. very ugly. (Usually objectionable.) That is the most butt-ugly car I’ve ever seen.
coyote-ugly(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!
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!