- black sheep
- 'We speak figuratively of the one black sheep that is the cause of sorrow in a family; but in its reality it is regarded by the Sussex shepherd as an omen of good luck to his flock' (Folk-Lore Record 1 (1878), 8). A number of other nineteenth and twentieth century references, from Somerset, Kent, and Derbyshire, for example, agree with this assessment of the black sheep, but others say the opposite. 'It was unlucky for the first lamb dropped in lambing season to be black - black twins were more unlucky' (Wiltshire, 1975: 56) and Charles Igglesden (c.1932: 105) writes the same for Shropshire, adding that the only way to avoid the bad luck is to cut their throats before they can 'baa'. Opie and Tatem, 1989: 29.
A Dictionary of English folklore. Jacqueline Simpson & Steve Roud. 2014.
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black sheep — n [C usually singular] someone who is regarded by other members of their family or group as a failure or embarrassment ▪ Amy s always been the black sheep of the family … Dictionary of contemporary English
black sheep — Someone who is the black sheep doesn t fit into a group or family because their behaviour or character is not good enough … The small dictionary of idiomes
black sheep — noun count someone who is not approved of by the other members of their family or the group they belong to because they are thought to behave badly … Usage of the words and phrases in modern English
black sheep — black′ sheep′ n. a person who causes shame or embarrassment because of deviation from the accepted standards of his or her group … From formal English to slang
black sheep — [n] disgraceful person ne’er dowell, outcast, pariah, prodigal, reject, reprobate; concept 423 … New thesaurus
black sheep — ► NOUN informal ▪ a member of a family or other group who is regarded as a disgrace to it … English terms dictionary