hold a candle to, cannot/not fit to(redirected from cannot/not fit to hold a candle to)
can't hold a candle to someone
Fig. not [to be] equal to someone; unable to measure up to someone. (Also with cannot.) Mary can't hold a candle to Ann when it comes to athletics. As for singing, John can't hold a candle to Jane.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
cannot hold a candle tobe nowhere near as good as. informal
In the 16th century, an assistant would literally hold a candle to his superior by standing beside him with a candle to provide enough light for him to work by. The modern version suggests that the subordinate is so far inferior that he is unfit to perform even this humble task.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
hold a candle to, cannot/not fit to
To be vastly inferior to someone. Holding a candle for someone else was already considered a menial task in the sixteenth century. “Who that worst maie, shall holde the candell” appeared in John Heywood’s 1546 collection of proverbs, and “I be not worthy to hold a candle to Aristotle,” wrote Sir Edward Dering (1640). A rhyming example appears in John Byrom’s poetic account, On the Feud between Handel and Bononcini (1773): “Others aver that he to Handel is scarcely fit to hold the candle.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer