"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" is from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It means: what matters is what something is, not what it's called.

I feel like this phrase has a very positive connotation to it: what matter is not what this fantastic thing is called, it matters what it is. Is there another common phrase, metaphor, or idiom I can use that has a more negative connotation? I'm looking for a phrase that says that it doesn't matter what this bad thing is called, it's still the same bad thing.

An idiom like, "lipstick on a pig" or "sugarcoating" means making a bad thing seem less bad. This is not what I'm trying to convey.

marked as duplicate by Laurel, JJJ, Xanne, jimm101, marcellothearcane Jun 30 at 18:35

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  • As an aside, while Googling this phrase I learned that Juliet says this to Romeo to say "you're still a Montague!" (which to her is bad). But a Rose is such a beautiful thing? Maybe there's another metaphor about thorns on a rose? I don't know :) – NewNameStat Jun 24 at 21:09
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    You mean something like "You can call a concentration camp a 'summer camp,' but it still has barbed wire, armed guards, and no privacy"? – Sven Yargs Jun 24 at 23:04
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    “A durian by any other name would still stink the place up something rotten”? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 24 at 23:23
  • Nice legs shame about the face Not quite there, but it does carry negative connotations! – Mari-Lou A Jun 25 at 4:36

A pig by any other name

still smells


is zebra

would smell as sweet

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    "A pig by any other name is zebra" is NOT a common idiom and for non-native speakers a misleading answer. – Mari-Lou A Jun 25 at 4:31
  • "A Pig By Any Other Name… (Again)" You forgot to add the ellipses and the brackets, hints at the original idiom but would not work in speech and would only confuse the listener. Nice website though. – Mari-Lou A Jun 25 at 4:34
  • No rich man ever succeeds in disguising himself as a poor man; for money, like murder, will out. -George Orwell – Global Charm Jun 25 at 14:49

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