Ugly Duckling (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Ugly Duckling"?

If somebody is described as an ugly duckling, it means they will grow up to be beautiful. The phrase comes from a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen. The tale is about a cygnet that was nested accidentally by a duck. The cygnet hides away due to its appearance (i.e., different to the ducklings) but later transforms into a beautiful swan.
Ugly Duckling (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • June was a chubby, ugly duckling as a child. Just look at her now.
  • Christian was the ugly duckling in his family until he grew up.
  • She was unnoticed in school, but she's a model now. A true ugly duckling!
  • Wow, great news! Well, that investment turned out to be an ugly duckling, didn't it?
  • (Note that it can be used for anything that starts bad and gets better.)

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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