an ugly duckling

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.

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
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References in periodicals archive ?
HANSEL, GRETEL, AND THE UGLY DUCKLING (9780778711575, $17.95) tells of two children who become lost in the forest, until an ugly duckling following their trail of crumbs comes to the rescue.
Brenda, who is also famous in Argentina as a singer, hit back at fans who cruelly mock Tevez as a bit of an ugly duckling himself.
His daughter, Sabrina, is an ugly duckling who's been in love with playboy David, the youngest Larrabee son, her entire life.
AN ugly duckling who lost its mother and was close to death has found a new happy family.
Hatton's Grace, an ugly duckling, had changed stables since finishing fifth in the 1948 Champion Hurdle, and the nine-year-old's transformation from also-ran to champion was early proof of the genius of his new trainer, Vincent O'Brien.
THERE'S a rather sweet romantic comedy buried deep within this film, a modern-day fairytale about an ugly duckling who emerges from her shell and turns out to be a swan.
Hilton, whose work includes House of Wax and TV's The Simple Life, stars as the attractive best friend to an ugly duckling in the new comedy, tipped for US release on February 8.
Adapted from a Colombian TV serial (Yo Soy Betty, la Fea), this much-buzzed-about comedy follows an ugly duckling, Betty Suarez (America Ferrera of Real Women Have Curves), who works at a fashion magazine.
Let's face it, we all love an ugly duckling into a swan story.
The famous Hans Christian Anderson tale, which tells the story of how an ugly duckling grows into a beautiful swan, was adapted by writer Anthony Drewe and musician George Stiles.
Surgeon Barry Monk showed his admiration by describing Becky as 'a classic story of an ugly duckling who turns into a beautiful swan'.
Alnoy's is an ugly duckling tale that is truly ugly, and is a bracing, ironic commentary on contemporary European social mores.
Just as most of the country was enamored with Seabiscuit, an ugly duckling grandson of the great race horse Man O' War, during the Depression, the author and the reader will feel great affection for the horse, his owners, trainers and jockeys by the end of this book.
STUNNING singer Nelly Furtado has revealed she was an ugly duckling whose best friends were chickens.
In his autobiography, Notes of an ugly duckling, he describes a childhood of sensitivity, introspection, insecurity and loneliness.