Definition of ugly duckling in English:

ugly duckling

noun

  • A person who turns out to be beautiful or talented against all expectations.

    • ‘Cosmetic surgery can easily transform an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan, so it is being put to a new use - that is, to create ‘man-made beauty’.’
    • ‘I was the ugly duckling who emerged a beautiful swan.’
    • ‘The ugly duckling turned into a beautiful swan, but I'm sadly neither a duck nor a swan.’
    • ‘The dilemma facing many new homeowners is how to turn an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan as quickly as possible, and with minimal investment.’
    • ‘I always viewed myself as an ugly duckling, never beautiful in other's eyes & yet it was him who proved me wrong.’
    • ‘Too often, these ugly ducklings are ignored regardless - everyone gravitates to the beautiful, emptyheaded starlets.’
    • ‘It's really about taking an ugly duckling and turning it into a beautiful swan.’
    • ‘Everyone knows the story of the ugly duckling who grows up and turns into a beautiful swan thereby perpetuating the myth that beauty is desirable.’
    • ‘The ugly duckling, who later turns out to be a beautiful swan, is cast out from the farmyard.’
    • ‘Both horses were ugly ducklings but Best Mate has blossomed into a beautiful specimen of a racehorse.’
    • ‘Evaluating a quarterback always is difficult, but it's even more challenging when the beautiful swan of a passer was an ugly duckling not long ago.’
    • ‘Kelly the ugly duckling has turned to become a beautiful swan.’
    • ‘A few times I caught myself moaning in horror, echoing the wail of one of the bandaged ugly ducklings in the opening montage: ‘I just don't know how much more of this I can take.’’
    • ‘At this stage, one contestant will be picked to advance to the 1st Annual Swan Pageant, where they will compete for the glory of being named Swan Queen, over all the other ugly ducklings transformed.’
    • ‘Then there was the gaggle of reporters and photographers, each managing to look variously disreputable - and, sailing among them like swans in the midst of ugly ducklings, a TV camera crew.’
    • ‘There are no ugly ducklings with the souls of artists here, no slobby Shreks who turn into heroes, just attractive preadolescents obsessed with the nuances of their social status.’
    • ‘Most of you probably view them as benign creatures of great beauty, those wondrous entities into which ugly ducklings grow.’
    • ‘They take 12 ugly people and call them ugly ducklings.’
    • ‘Wet hens - or ugly ducklings - are sometimes never the creatures you first think.’
    • ‘Both exonogous and endogonous stimuli play a part in turning ugly ducklings into black swans.’

Origin

From the title of one of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, in which the ‘ugly duckling’ becomes a swan.

Pronunciation

ugly duckling