ugly duckling

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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

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

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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
The Ugly Duckling trying to make some froggy friends
The Ugly Duckling program has been so successful--over 20,000 schoolchildren in Denver alone have seen it--that it has been transplanted to Dance Theatre of Tennessee in Nashville, and will soon be at Oklahoma City Ballet.
Ugly Duckling is the company's first ballet especially for children.
There was excellent agreement on the ugly duckling sign among observers.
Send entries to The Ugly Duckling and Me DVD Competition, c/o Suzanne Jackson, Editorial, Coventry Telegraph, Corporation Street, Coventry CV1 1FP.
Originally called "The Ugly Duckling or the Aesthetically Challenged Barnyard Fowl," the play is by Anthony Drew and George Stiles; it first opened in England in 1993.
Surgeon Barry Monk showed his admiration by describing Becky as 'a classic story of an ugly duckling who turns into a beautiful swan'.
I've been called ugly duckling and I've been called one of the most beautiful women in the world.
Brummie wideboy PJ has never lived down his famous fumble with Cockney kebab-bellied ugly duckling Jade Goody.
DANIEL Shelvey (pictured) heads the cast in the Liverpool premiere of an award winning musical based on Hans Christian Andersen's story of the Ugly Duckling.
KAE618) GREGORY SULLIVAN, CEO of UGLY DUCKLING CORPORATION (UGLY), describes the company's business and its background; prospects for the industry, with positive and negative trends; competitive threats; strategic opportunities for the firm including its marketing plans and acquisition potential; management strength and organization; and the financial prospects of the firm looking forward.
Fast-growing companies with rising earnings reigned, while ugly duckling "value" stocks went largely unappreciated.
Yet, more often than not, the parish hall is the ugly duckling of church property.
However, he described the proposal as "a very ugly duckling.
White's version of the ugly duckling story involves a mute swan named Louis who becomes a famous jazz trumpet player to compensate for his lack of a natural voice.