What does the term black sheep really mean, and where did it come from? What started as a derogatory phrase used to describe someone who doesn’t fit in has evolved over the years and has several meanings and uses today. Let’s go over its origin, true definition, and how to use the phrase in writing.
Black Sheep Definition
The origin of the term “black sheep” refers to a member of a group who is different or deviant from the norm. This phrase has its origins in the early history of sheep breeding when farmers would try to produce a flock of sheep that were all the same color.
Occasionally, a black sheep would be born into a flock of white sheep, and this black sheep would stand out as different. Over time, the phrase “black sheep” came to be used metaphorically to refer to someone who is different or out of place in a group.
What Makes Someone a Black Sheep?
The term “black sheep” can also be used to describe someone who is seen as a disappointment or a failure compared to the rest of the group. This might be because they have made poor choices or because they have not achieved the same level of success as others in the group.
For example, you might say, “My brother is the black sheep of the family because he dropped out of college, and now, he can’t find a job.”
How to Apply the Term Black Sheep
There are a few different ways that the term “black sheep” can be used. You can use it when describing someone who is an outsider or who does not fit in with the rest of the group. This might be because of their personality, their interests, or their behaviors.
For example, I might say, “I always feel like the black sheep in my family because I’m the only one who doesn’t like sports.”
Black Sheep as a Positive
In some cases, the term “black sheep” can be used in a more positive way to describe someone who is seen as a rebellious or nonconformist member of a group. This might be because they are willing to challenge the status quo or because they have different ideas or values than the rest of the group.
For example, I might say, “I always admired my uncle because he was the black sheep of the family – he never cared about what anyone else thought, and he always followed his own path.”
Black Sheep Groups
While the term “black sheep” is often used to describe individuals, it can also be used to refer to groups or organizations. In this context, it might be used to describe a group that is seen as different or out of step with the rest of the community.
For example, you might argue, “That political party is the black sheep of the system – they always have such unconventional ideas.”
In the End: Are You a Black Sheep?
The term “black sheep” refers to someone or something that is different or out of place in a group. It can be used in a negative or a positive way, depending on the context and the individual being described.
Despite its origins in the world of sheep breeding, the phrase “black sheep” has become a common way to describe anyone who is an outsider or does not fit in with the rest of a group or has poor family relations.