black sheep


: a disfavored or disreputable member of a group

Examples of black sheep in a Sentence

She was the black sheep of the family.
Recent Examples on the Web Chambers describes his father as the family’s original black sheep and credits him as the person who first taught him to hate cops and distrust the wealthy. David Peisner, Rolling Stone, 24 Mar. 2024 Impulsive, artistic Ricki Wilde is the black sheep of her powerful Atlanta family. Ew Staff Published,, 20 Dec. 2023 Ricki’s story is a familiar one, a family black sheep who has let her family chip at her confidence for far too long. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 29 Feb. 2024 Does this mean that Adams' black sheep label is about to be erased? Lincee Ray,, 5 May 2023 The book, a National Book Award winner regarded both as maybe Roth’s greatest novel and his black sheep, is certainly his raunchiest and most transgressive. Marc Tracy, New York Times, 25 Oct. 2023 This year alone has seen the sale of her famous black sheep jumper by Warm and Wonderful, which was bought in September for what was then a record $1.143 million (despite several moth holes!). Monique Jessen, Peoplemag, 19 Dec. 2023 At this point in Diana's royal life, anyone could guess who the black sheep was supposed to represent. Kathleen Walsh, Glamour, 27 June 2023 Chapman’s decision to support her daughter grew in part out of her own experience as a black sheep in a deeply religious family. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, 9 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'black sheep.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1657, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of black sheep was in 1657

Dictionary Entries Near black sheep

Cite this Entry

“Black sheep.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

black sheep

: a person having a bad reputation in a group with a good reputation
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!