you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

you can't make a silk purse (out) of a sow's ear

You cannot fashion something beautiful or valuable out of poor materials. What do you want me to do with this tacky fabric? You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear!
See also: ear, make, of, purse, silk

can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

Be unable to turn something ugly or inferior into something attractive or of value, as in No matter how expensive his clothes, he still looks sloppy-you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear . This expression was already a proverb in the mid-1500s.
See also: ear, make, of, out, purse, silk

you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

If you say you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, you mean that it is impossible to make something very successful or of high quality out of something which is unsuccessful or of poor quality. He did his best to coach the team but you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Note: People often vary this expression. It takes more than a good swimming pool and an indoor tennis court or two to make a sow's ear of a resort into a silk purse. Afterwards, Kendall made no attempt to describe this sow's ear as a silk purse. Note: A sow is a female pig, and the ears of a pig are regarded as the least useful body parts when the animal is slaughtered.
See also: ear, make, of, out, purse, silk

can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

One cannot turn something inherently inferior into something of value. This proverbial metaphor dates from about 1500, and with some slight variation (“silk” is sometimes “velvet”) makes its way from proverb collections (by Howell, Ray, Dykes, et al.) into literature (Samuel Richardson, Laurence Sterne, Jonathan Swift, Charles Lamb, Robert Browning, George Bernard Shaw, and Clifford Odets, among others).
See also: ear, make, of, out, purse, silk

you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

You cannot turn something inferior or bad into something of value. This proverbial warning was issued in various forms from the sixteenth century on. It clearly had no literal basis; indeed, the absurdity of trying to turn pig’s ears into silk (or velvet or satin, as some variants have it) no doubt helped the saying survive.
See also: ear, make, of, out, purse, silk
References in periodicals archive ?
[bar] YOU can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, as the old adage goes.
You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Yet this is precisely what teachers, support staff, head teachers and governors attempt to do, only to be vilified by ambitious politicians and their equally ambitious pawns.
YOU can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The players that Rafa has at his disposal are simply not good enough.
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