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square peg in a round hole

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Also, round peg in a square hole. A misfit, especially a person unsuited for a position or activity. For example, Ruth doesn't have the finesse for this job; she's a round peg in a square hole. This idiom, with its graphic image of something that cannot fit, dates from about 1800.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

MORE ABOUT SQUARE PEG IN A ROUND HOLE

What does square peg in a round hole mean?

The phrase square peg in a round hole refers to a person who is in a position, such as a job, that they are unsuited for, as in Jeff’s allergy to cats made him a square peg in a round hole as the vet’s assistant. 

Square peg in a round hole can also refer to someone who is very uncomfortable in a certain situation. If you don’t like classical music, you might feel like a square peg in a round hole at a symphony performance.

The phrase round peg in a square hole is used to mean the same thing.

Often, the phrase square peg in a round hole is used with verbs like fit, stick, or push to emphasize the idea that the peg and the hole don’t match.

Example: Our school’s French teacher was a square peg in a round hole when she was accidentally assigned to teach my chemistry class. 

Where does square peg in a round hole come from?

The first records of the phrase square peg in a round hole come from around 1836. A peg is a pin, usually made of wood, that is placed inside something. Square peg in a round hole figuratively compares a person who doesn’t fit in a situation or role to a square peg that literally doesn’t fit into a round hole.

Square peg in a round hole is commonly used to refer to a person filling the wrong role or being assigned the wrong position. For example, a professional baseball player would likely be called a square peg in a round hole if they were forced to play basketball instead.

Although it is most often used to refer to people, square peg in a round hole may also be used to refer to objects that don’t belong somewhere or things that are inappropriate in a certain situation, such as a 20-story building among two-story houses.

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What are some other forms related to square peg in a round hole?

  • round peg in a square hole

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How is square peg in a round hole used in real life?

Square peg in a round hole is used to describe people who don’t fit their jobs or roles or to describe something as being inappropriate or a bad idea.

Try using square peg in a round hole!

Is square peg in a round hole used correctly in the following sentence?

As a professional chef, Felix is like a square peg in a round hole whenever he is in a kitchen.

How to use square peg in a round hole in a sentence

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