I was doing some research on idioms, and came upon the thought of whether there is an opposite idiom for

The apple never falls far from the tree.

as in

"The offspring have much in common with their ancestors."

I am searching for an idiom meaning the exact opposite, as in

"The offspring have little in common with their ancestors."

Does such a thing exist?

  • A common equivalent to The apple never falls far from the tree is Like father, like son. The are numerous Google results for the opposite: Like father, unlike son.
    – Shoe
    Jan 17 '19 at 10:39
  • Psalm 58:3: estranged from the womb. Though this is saying the progeny are wicked, not the parents.
    – stevesliva
    Jan 29 '19 at 2:35
  • 1
    Interestingly, the "apple" phrase seems to be a general consensus - all exceptions to this rule are described idiomatically as anomalies: "A gypsy left you on the doorstep," "You're the milkman's child," "He was dropped on his head as a baby," etc.
    – Oldbag
    Feb 16 '19 at 13:41
  • 1
    It is permissible to remark (in a tone of irony) sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree, to suggest that frequently offspring do differ from their ancestors in some key regard.
    – Steve
    Jun 16 '19 at 13:16
  • 1
    Depending on the relevance of the cultural reference, there's - Jackie Gleason's classic youtube.com/watch?v=PnNSy6CqTcU
    – Phil Sweet
    Jun 16 '19 at 15:41

I would say 'the black sheep of the family'.

According to Oxford Living Dictionary:

black sheep



A member of a family or group who is regarded as a disgrace to it.


‘I'm happy enough to be the black sheep of the team, just like I'm the most downwardly mobile member of my family.’

‘As a young man, he was branded a black sheep after leaving his family's granite merchant business in Aberdeen and moving to Falkirk to launch his own firm.’

‘What we are is a family and like every family we have some black sheep and our behaviour is sometimes totally unacceptable.’

‘Every family has a black sheep, and I guess I was the one for our family.’

‘She is the black sheep of the family; drug rehab, shoplifting - you name it, she has done it.’

‘However, I am the black sheep in a family of shopaholics.’

‘Sarah is the free spirit black sheep of a rich family and is known for her impulsive, spontaneous personality.’

‘I was the black sheep of my family, getting in trouble trying to get rich.’

‘Having always been the extroverted black sheep in my family I'd always been very curious about these things we weren't allowed to do.’

‘Just suffice it to say that I have stood where you stand now - scorned by family members, labeled a black sheep.’

‘All families are untidy, with their unsolved mysteries, unspoken secrets, black sheep and messy relationships.’

‘Would my beliefs make me the black sheep of the family?’

‘Now, I'm the black sheep of the family, the ungrateful and neglectful daughter.'

  • Ah yes, that is a thing, but that more specifically applies to an individual. It would be interesting to find a broader term, as in "X's children are all very noisy, nothing like their parents." Jan 17 '19 at 10:03

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