“Can’t hold a candle to…” (Idiom Origins)

Photo Source:  torange.us

Photo Source: torange.us

Head back to Idiom Origins.

“Can’t hold a candle to (insert something or someone here)” means that the subject you’re talking about isn’t nearly as good at something as whatever you’re inserting into the object of that sentence. To use it in a sentence:  “James is good at drawing, but he can’t hold a candle to Cindy.”

So where does this idiom come from?

Before electric lights, someone performing a task in the dark needed a helper to hold a candle to provide light while the task was performed–much like a helper might hold a flashlight today.

Holding the candle is, of course, the less challenging role. Someone who is not even qualified to hold the candle is much less competent than the person performing the actual task.

Source:  http://www.pride-unlimited.com/probono/idioms1.html


About authorphilpartington

Phil is a writing enthusiast of many years, having been published in numerous online and national print trade and sports publications over the past decade. He has spent the past five years delving back into the world of fiction writing, focussing on the fantasy, horror and suspense genres. Deshay of the Woods is his first novel.
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2 Responses to “Can’t hold a candle to…” (Idiom Origins)

  1. Thanks for the link and this post. I love idiom and word origins.

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