- Probably from the custom of apprentices to a trade holding a candle so the master worker could see clearly. If a person was not even good enough for such a simple task, then they were worthless.
hold a candle (third-person singular simple present holds a candle, present participle holding a candle, simple past and past participle held a candle)
- (idiomatic) To compare; to be even remotely of the same quality, skill, etc. as another.
- The old computer just doesn't hold a candle to the latest models.
- Typically used in the negative when something does not compare, as in the example.
be even remotely of the same quality