(as) black as (one) is painted

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(as) black as (one) is painted

As evil, malicious, or malignant as one is described or believed to be. I wasn't sure why everyone is afraid of the old hermit who lives on the edge of town, but after having a few conversations with him, I found that he is as black as he's painted! The biker gang plays up its tough demeanor and hellish reputation, but they're really just a bunch of regular guys and not as black as they're painted.
See also: black, painted
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*black as one is painted

as evil as described. (Usually negative. *Also: as ~.) The landlord is not as black as he is painted. He seems quite generous to me. Young people are rarely black as they are painted in the media.
See also: black, one, painted
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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