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lucky duckling

An incredibly lucky person; someone who falls into good fortune. A: "I won another bet in the basketball tournament—that's three in a row now!" B: "Wow, you lucky duckling!" Just when he was looking to take some time away from work to focus on raising his kids, the company began offering really excellent voluntary severance packages to reduce the number of staff. What a lucky duckling, huh?
See also: duckling, lucky

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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

ugly duckling

An unattractive or unpromising child who turns into a beautiful or much admired adult. The term comes from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale in which a baby cygnet, hatched with a brood of ducklings, is despised by both mother and siblings for its clumsiness until it grows up and becomes a beautifully graceful swan.
See also: duckling, ugly
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
However, the positioning of the tree prevented them from simply using their hands to lift out the ducklings.
A mother duck and her ducklings reunited after the ducklings became trapped in a tree in Birkenhead Park
After the rescue, the eight ducklings and their mom walked away unharmed.
A statement read: "At around 9.40am firefighters were called by the RSPCA to assist with freeing ducklings that had fallen down a drain on Western Avenue in Nantwich.
By then the duck's mother had come, 'Lazy Mama,' Naomi would tease it, 'come to fetch her newly hatched brood.' The five ducklings were flexing their young wings, turning their small heads this way and that, while a faint wind stirred their feathers.
The ducklings were found on a busy stretch the A494 in Deeside.
"They were called by a member of the public to rescue six ducklings which had fallen into a storm drain on the A4071 on Rugby Road.
Moreover, the liver has important functions in innate and adaptive immunity [16]; Therefore, it was selected for sampling to explore the differences in metabolism and immune defense between the normally hatched and assisted ducklings using the Illumina RNA-Seq method.
As part of the study, ( published  in the journal Science on Friday, professor ( Alex Kacelnik of the University of Oxford and his student Antone Martinho III performed a behavioral test with ducklings that can quickly learn the traits of their mothers within hours of hatching - a process known as imprinting. The researchers found that the newly hatched mallards can do more than we thought they could.
All six ducklings were reunited with their mother Saturday in the canal behind a home, where residents had reported seeing the ducklings go into the drain.
THE city is going quackers over a family of ducklings that has hatched outside Newcastle Civic Centre.
NINE tiny orphaned ducklings were facing a tough Easter - until they found a new foster mum.
NINE orphaned ducklings have been saved after falling down a drain.
Lucky Ducklings is the DVD adaptation of a wonderful picturebook for children ages 4-8, drawn from a true story about how a mother duck and her five ducklings were rescued from a town storm drain during an early morning walk.