Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

lucky duckling

An incredibly lucky person; someone who falls into good fortune. A: "I won another bet in the basketball tournament—that's three in a row now!" B: "Wow, you lucky duckling!" Just when he was looking to take some time away from work to focus on raising his kids, the company began offering really excellent voluntary severance packages to reduce the number of staff. What a lucky duckling, huh?
See also: duckling, lucky

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.

ugly duckling

A homely or unpromising individual who grows into an attractive or talented person, as in She was the family ugly duckling but blossomed in her twenties. This term alludes to Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale about a cygnet hatched with ducklings that is despised for its clumsiness until it grows up into a beautiful swan. The tale was first translated into English in 1846, and the term was used figuratively by 1871.
See also: duckling, ugly
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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

ugly duckling

An unattractive or unpromising child who turns into a beautiful or much admired adult. The term comes from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale in which a baby cygnet, hatched with a brood of ducklings, is despised by both mother and siblings for its clumsiness until it grows up and becomes a beautifully graceful swan.
See also: duckling, ugly
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
Geier said that when she arrived, the mama duck stood nearby "quacking like crazy." The remaining stuck ducklings kept crawling out of reach into a tube opening inside the sewer, so she and Nathaniel worked as a team, she said.
But the judge was satisfied the victim went towards Duckling first.
"Strangely he actually did rescue the duckling alive from the dead heron's stomach.
Later two of the ducklings would die, carried away by the raging floods that came in the wake of the year's first typhoon.
To account for model-selection uncertainty among nest success and duckling survival model sets, we calculated model-averaged estimates across all candidate models within a set.
To test the utility of the ugly duckling sign when applied by a diverse group of people, Dr.
The research institute's findings also confirmed that Cherry Valley's ducklings are still market leaders with the best meat to fat ratio of all of the ducks tested and that they have a larger amount of breast meat than any other brand too.
Bangkok Ranch, one of the world's largest producers of Pekin ducklings, is about to launch its first range of authentic Dalee duck dishes, aimed at the flexi-eating and quick meal sectors, to the buyers of Europe.
"Ducklings" are hatched in the opening scene of the show.
In The Sissy Duckling (Simon & Schuster, $16), based on the HBO special of the same name, the fabulous Harvey Fierstein tells of Elmer, "the happiest duckling in the whole forest," whose gay-boy ways get him ostracized until his courage comes through.
Upon arrival to an experimental lake, each duckling was weighed (nearest milligram) on a battery-driven balance.
Pairing the female with her first choice, instead of with a reject, raised duckling survival by about a third, reports Cynthia K.
Minus the skin, duckling contains about 11.2 grams of fat per 3.5-ounce serving--a little more than turkey or chicken, but a lot less than pork or beef.
The sixth duckling had walked down a sewer pipe, Blaauw said, so firefighters had to remove a second manhole cover.
Teesside's top judge passed an exceptional sentence, saying 56-year-old Raymond Duckling acted on impulse in "excessive self-defence".