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black sheep

noun
1.
a sheep with black fleece.
2.
a person who causes shame or embarrassment because of deviation from the accepted standards of his or her group.
Origin
1785-1795
1785-95
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for black sheep

black sheep

noun
1.
a person who is regarded as a disgrace or failure by his family or peer group
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for black sheep
n.

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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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black sheep in Culture

black sheep definition


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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with black sheep

black sheep

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.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Difficulty index for black sheep

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Word Value for black

13
16
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