ugly duckling


Definition of ugly duckling

: one that appears very unpromising but often has great potential

Examples of ugly duckling in a Sentence

The house is an ugly duckling, but it has a lot of potential.
Recent Examples on the Web An Australian ballroom dancer makes an ugly duckling his partner and dares in competition to go flamenco. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week ‘Pulp Fiction’ on BBC America and IFC," 9 Apr. 2021 For Nikki Glaser, among the comedians featured in the film, her childhood included overwhelming feelings of being an ugly duckling, multiple insecurities, a craving for attention and an eating disorder. Marianne Garvey, CNN, "Nikki Glaser learns to love herself," 7 Apr. 2021 An Australian ballroom dancer makes an ugly duckling his partner and dares in competition to go flamenco. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: James Dean in ‘Giant’ on TCM and more," 2 Apr. 2021 Man, only in a late-aughts rom-com is Katherine Heigl framed as the ugly duckling. Emma Specter, Vogue, "39 Thoughts I Had While Rewatching 27 Dresses," 19 Mar. 2021 That ugly duckling dirt lot transformed into a swan, with catered charcuterie, carts selling cold beer and festive banners. Nancy Laturno Writer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Looking back at 2020 in the arts: Nancy Laturno: ‘We can do the impossible’," 27 Dec. 2020 Off-the-rack 996 GT3s were once the underdogs of the track world, but their ugly duckling status later dissipated when their analogue traits became endearing to Porsche hardliners. Basem Wasef, Car and Driver, "Driving the 5 Best Porsche 911 GT Cars Ever," 15 Dec. 2020 But however avidly the world treated him like an enchanted princess, his mirror showed him an ugly duckling. Gary Indiana, Harper's Magazine, "Always Leave Them Wanting Less," 25 May 2020 Beethoven’s Fourth is not the ugly duckling of the symphonies so much as the modest, slender person crushed on the subway bench between two massive manspreaders. New York Times, "The Ultimate Beethoven Symphony Collection," 27 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ugly duckling.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ugly duckling

1869, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ugly duckling

The Ugly Duckling, story by Hans Christian Andersen

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Time Traveler for ugly duckling

Time Traveler

The first known use of ugly duckling was in 1869

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Statistics for ugly duckling

Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ugly duckling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for ugly duckling

ugly duckling


English Language Learners Definition of ugly duckling

: a person or thing that is not attractive or successful but that is likely to become attractive or successful in the future

More from Merriam-Webster on ugly duckling

Nglish: Translation of ugly duckling for Spanish Speakers

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