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hold a candle




  • 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 he was 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)

  1. (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.

Usage notesEdit

  • Typically used in the negative when something does not compare, as in the example.


Further readingEdit