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Jul 22, 2020
This week’s theme
Words coined after fairy-tale characters

This week’s words
Goldilocks
Cinderella
ugly duckling
sleeping beauty
Prince Charming

Ugly Duckling
Illustration: Milo Winter
From Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales, 1916

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

ugly duckling

PRONUNCIATION:
(UHG-lee DUHK-ling)

MEANING:
noun: One that seems unattractive or unpromising at first but has great potential and later turns out to be quite attractive or successful.

ETYMOLOGY:
From the protagonist of the story “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen, in which a young bird believes himself to be a duck and is unhappy because he doesn’t look like a duck, only to later learn that (spoiler alert) he is a beautiful swan. Earliest documented use: 1877.

USAGE:
“Nearly every transport advocacy group in Melbourne bemoans a lack of investment in our bus network. The ugly duckling of the transport network, and a mode that fails to attract attention on the front pages of newspapers, it is perhaps the cheapest and most obvious way to tackle congestion.”
Stuart James; Fork in Road for Public Transport Solutions; Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia); May 21, 2020.

See more usage examples of ugly duckling in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
What's done to children, they will do to society. -Karl A. Menninger, psychiatrist (22 Jul 1893-1990)

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