A black sheep


      • discourage someone
        Advise against engaging in a particular activity or task, cautioning that it will not result in any positive outcome or benefit

      • outcast
        Refer to someone who is considered the odd one out or different from the rest of their family or group

    Examples of A black sheep

    • In his large family, Michael was the black sheep. He always seemed to be getting into trouble and failed to fit in with the rest of his siblings.

      The expression "a black sheep" refers to an individual who does not conform to the traditional values or behavior of a group, such as a family, organization, or community. The term "black" in this case is metaphorical and implies that the person is an outcast or an embarrassment to the group. In this example, Michael is the black sheep in his family due to his misbehavior and non-compliance with family values.

    • Despite being a black sheep in her own family, Maria was determined to succeed in her career. Her unconventional ideas and individualistic approach often got her into trouble, but she refused to let that stop her from achieving her goals.

      Here, the expression "a black sheep" is used to describe Maria's status in her own family. However, it is contrasted with Maria's confident and determined persona in her professional life. This shows that being a black sheep does not necessarily imply failure or a lack of success. In fact, it can sometimes signify independence and originality.

    • The company's recent acquisition of a small, family-owned business has caused some grumbling from the employees. They see the new CEO as a black sheep, someone who does not value the company's traditions and culture.

      In this example, the expression "a black sheep" is used to describe the new CEO's unpopularity among the employees. They believe that he does not adhere to the values and traditions of the company, which are deeply entrenched in its culture. This example shows that the term "a black sheep" can also be used metaphorically to describe someone who does not fit into a specific social or cultural context.

    • There are certain tasks in the office that nobody wants to do, and they have become known as the black sheep jobs. They are unpleasant, mundane, and often involve manual labor.

      Here, the expression "black sheep jobs" is used to describe tasks that are considered undesirable or unpopular within an organization. The term "black sheep" is used to convey the perception that these tasks are somehow shunned or avoided by other employees, who consider them to be a source of discomfort or embarrassment. This example shows that the expression can be used more broadly to refer to anything that is considered an anomaly or an outsider in a specific context.

    • Sarah's family has always been known for their accomplishments and successes, but Sarah has always seemed like a "black sheep." She struggles with addiction and has been in and out of rehab several times.

      The phrase "black sheep" refers to an individual who does not conform to the expectations or norms of a group or family, often as a result of behaviors or actions that are considered undesirable or negative. In this example, Sarah's struggles with addiction have set her apart from her successful family, making her the "black sheep" of the family.

    • Despite their massive financial success, John and Jane's company has produced a few "black sheep" products over the years that have failed miserably in the market.

      In this example, the company's unsuccessful products are being compared to a "black sheep" in the sense that they are outliers or exceptions to the norm. The products did not conform to the company's usual high standards of success and are therefore considered "black sheep" products.

    • In a family filled with athletic talent, Sarah's love for painting and creative writing made her the "black sheep." Her family encouraged her siblings to pursue sports and physical activities, but Sarah's interests diverged from the family norm, making her the "black sheep" in this context.

      Once again, the phrase "black sheep" is being used to describe someone who does not fit the mold or expectations of a group, in this case, Sarah's family. Her interests are seen as atypical or non-conformist compared to her family's usual focus on athleticism.

    • In the midst of a talented and successful team, Ravi's poor performance and negative attitude made him the "black sheep." His behavior and work ethic did not align with the team's high standards, causing him to be ostracized and labeled as the "black sheep."

      In this example, the phrase "black sheep" is being used to describe someone who has fallen below the expected standards of a group or team. Ravi's poor performance and negative attitude made him stand out in a negative way, causing him to be labeled as the "black sheep."


    The idiom "a black sheep" can be used to discourage someone from a certain activity or to refer to someone as an outcast within their family or group.

    Origin of "A black sheep"

    The origin of the idiom "a black sheep" can be traced back to the 18th century. In the past, black sheep were considered less valuable than white sheep because their wool could not be dyed. This led to the belief that black sheep were undesirable and different from the rest of the flock. Over time, this association with being different or undesirable evolved into the figurative meaning of being an outcast or the odd one out.

    The idiom has since been used to describe individuals who are seen as different from the rest of their family or group, and is often used in a lighthearted or humorous manner. The concept of the black sheep has also been explored in literature and popular culture, further solidifying its place in the English language.