poor relation

World English Dictionary
poor relation
 
n
a person or thing considered inferior to another or others: plastic is a poor relation of real leather

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

poor relation

An inferior member of a group, as in Many regard Turkey as the poor relation in the European alliance. This expression, first recorded in 1720 for a family member in humble circumstances, began to be used figuratively in the mid-1900s.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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