ugly duckling

an unattractive or unpromising child who becomes a beautiful or much-admired adult.

1880–85; after the bird in the story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
ugly duckling
a person or thing, initially ugly or unpromising, that changes into something beautiful or admirable
[an allusion to The Ugly Duckling, a story by Hans Christian Andersen]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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