hold a candle to, cannot/not fit 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!
See also: candle, hold, to

not fit to 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's not fit to hold a candle to the original. John's fast all right, but he isn’t fit to hold a candle to Louise!
See also: candle, fit, hold, not, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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.
See also: candle, hold, to
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

cannot hold a candle to

be 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.
See also: candle, cannot, hold, to
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.”
See also: candle, cannot, fit, hold, not, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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