from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One that is considered ugly or unpromising at first but has the potential of becoming beautiful or admirable in maturity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A young person who is ugly, but who is expected to become beautiful as they mature.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an ugly or unpromising child who grows into a beautiful or worthy person


After The Ugly Duckling, a story by Hans Christian Andersen.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From a fairy tale of a duckling, considered ugly, that matures into a magnificent swan. (Wiktionary)


  • Zakharov used to tell Berezhnaya’s mother that in Moscow they were turning the ugly duckling from Nevinnomyssk into a swan.



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