cannot hold a candle to
can't hold a candle to (someone or something)
Cannot compare to someone or something; is not nearly as good or desirable as someone or something. The sequel wasn't bad, but it can't hold a candle to the original. John's fast all right, but he can't hold a candle to Louise!
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.
cannot hold a candle to somebody/something(informal) is not as good as somebody or something else: She is a good player, but she can’t hold a candle to a champion like Jane. OPPOSITE: put somebody/something in the shadeIn the past, an assistant used to hold a candle for somebody more senior so that they could have light to do their work. This idiom implies that even this position is too good for the person mentioned.
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.”