- a sheep with black fleece.
- a person who causes shame or embarrassment because of deviation from the accepted standards of his or her group.
Origin of black sheep
Examples from the Web for black sheep
Contemporary Examples of black sheep
Clinton jokes that Barbara Bush refers to him as her “black-sheep son.”Bush’s Hidden Legacy
May 31, 2012
Historical Examples of black sheep
- a person who is regarded as a disgrace or failure by his family or peer group
by 1822 in figurative sense of "member of some group guilty of offensive conduct and unlike the other members," supposedly because a real black sheep had wool that could not be dyed and was thus worth less. But one black sheep in a flock was considered good luck by shepherds in Sussex, Somerset, Kent, Derbyshire. Baa Baa Black Sheep nursery rhyme's first known publication is in "Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book" (c.1744).
A person who is considered a disgrace to a particular group, usually a family: “Uncle Jack, who was imprisoned for forgery, is the black sheep of the family.”
The least reputable member of a group; a disgrace. For example, Uncle Fritz was the black sheep of the family; we always thought he emigrated to Argentina to avoid jail. This metaphor is based on the idea that black sheep were less valuable than white ones because it was more difficult to dye their wool different colors. Also, in the 16th century, their color was considered the devil's mark. By the 18th century the term was widely used as it is today, for the odd member of a group.