I’m writing lyrics for a song about xenophobia and have a line that I like “Just because there has been one wolf in wool, doesn’t mean we all have fangs” I’d like to follow that up with another deconstructed idiom like that but I hit a wall. Any ideas?

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    In my lyric though it would imply that people are sheep and harmless, and even though there may have been one bad apple (a wolf in sheeps clothing) that the entire group is not bad Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 13:38
  • ,,, Those that don't pretend they're not going to eat you being not bad? Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 13:39
  • I’m trying to state that you can’t judge a group of people by the actions of a single person. Like you can’t say all sheep are wolves, just because there has been one wolf in disguise. Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 13:40
  • There's the Trojan horse.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 21:56

3 Answers 3


The idiom "snake in the grass" may work well for you.

This idiom continues the theme of animals hiding and waiting to attack. However, snakes are terribly misunderstood and virtually none intend to harm humans (in fact numerically few are even capable of harming a creature as large as a human.) Despite this, snakes are vilified as incredibly destructive; so much so that the idiom in question implies that if a person were to walk in tall grass where a snake was located, then something terrible would happen to that person.

  • Yesterday, I was in my garden weeding and a very fat garter snake suddenly slithered by. It caught me off guard and I screamed like a silly fool. :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 15:29
  • This is a great one. I’m trying to find a way to structure it similarly. Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 17:13

Been awhile since you posted your question and I don’t know if you ever finished your lyrics, but when I came across this random post I immediately thought of ‘you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear’

The meaning that you can’t change people- make them into something they’re not, somehow resonated for me with the concept of those who pretend to be something they are not. Good luck!!

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    – livresque
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 20:02

There is the common metaphor of rotten apples. The most common version is, "One rotten apple spoils the whole bunch." But in relation to your context, the Osmonds challenged that notion in a lyric:

One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, girl

Give it one more try before you give up on love

It does not, however, include the element of deception that "wolf in sheep's clothing" does.

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