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I'm searching for an idiom or common phrase that describes 2 people who seem vastly different (different upbringings, social status, etc.) on the outside, but actually have more in common than first assumed. The only one I can think of is the saying “two sides of the same coin” but that is more for comparing one thing, not two different people or things.

Any suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! :)

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    Does the idiom have to convey that the people are apparently vastly different at the same time as sharing many similarities? Commented May 29, 2023 at 15:46
  • yeah. outsiders would have trouble seeing how the 2 individuals could have anything in common bc they're looking at tangible differences, (wealth, background, life trajectory etc) but on an emotional/personal level, the 2 people realize they share quite a few similarities, which connects them
    – mel
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 21:36

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You might say they're brothers under the skin.

There have been book, movie and TV interpretations of the phrase, which describes people who are different in appearance but have much in common.

Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary; TFD has:

be brothers under the skin:

be men/women with similar feelings, in spite of outside appearances, position, etc:

  • Actors and politicians are brothers under the skin. They both need public approval.
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"They are cut from the same cloth at heart" combines two idiomatic phrases in a manner pretty close to your desired meaning. "cut from the same cloth" implies fundamental similarities while "at heart" constrains it to those fundamental similarities.

On its own, the latter can be used in semi-defensive phrases like "they are a good person at heart", implying that they don't appear as one.

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    I'm not sure that it conveys the idea that they are apparently different in appearance. Commented May 30, 2023 at 9:53
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I'm going to quote from Forrest Gump...

Jenny and me was "like peas and carrots"

How does that apply here?

I think what the phrase intends is that 2 people can be quite different in abilities, appearance and outlook, yet still there is a strong core of compatibility between them.

I believe the Gumpism was based on the old Southern phrase "like two peas in a pod".

Turning it into "peas and carrots" enhances the idea of sameness and differences. After all, both are vegetables, and they look and taste different, but in reality they have more in common than not.

This idiom is also found in Farlex

be like peas and carrots
To be very compatible and congenial together; to get along very harmoniously.

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    that is actually very cute and a really good suggestion! thanks!
    – mel
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 21:31
  • Peas and carrots are a pretty common succotash (veggie mix meant to be eaten as a side dish) in the states as well, as they complement each other well, or so I'm told (I don't like peas)
    – No Name
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 7:59
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    The reference is lost in British English. Peas and carrots are inherently dissimilar.
    – Greybeard
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 10:23
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    @NuclearHoagie I don't really have any skin in this game. However, the non-sameness is self-evident, as posited by Greybeard, and Chris H suggests it would be a metaphor of things not comparable at all, so I provided a citation. As to why they are considered compatible, that would be subjective, and so I find Cascabel's interpretation to be valid, regardless of whether I agree.
    – jxh
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 17:37
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    @jxh Greybeard and ChrisH are unfamiliar with the phrase and have incorrectly inferred differences where none are implied - they are explicitly not reading the words as an American idiom, but instead as common words with dictionary definitions. There is no idiomatic implication that two people who are "like peas and carrots" have any meaningful differences between them, it just means they get along well. It is hardly the case that people could be too similar to be called "peas and carrots". Commented May 30, 2023 at 18:05
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You could call them kindred souls. TFD defines "a kindred soul" as:

A person who shares several fundamental beliefs, ideas, convictions, sentiments, attitudes, or interests with oneself.

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    Where’s the “vastly different” part here? Commented May 29, 2023 at 16:56
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When describing two people with similar views we simply say

Those two are Likeminded

It conveys the outward facial / bodily differences but the inner similarity in thoughts and / or deeds, and / or the same aspirations.

There is also another politically incorrect (non PC mal à propos) colloquialism, possibly not in fashion but heard often in my youth, to describe "Brothers united in arms" as "They .... like Siamese Twins". But is correctly now totally out of fashion.

Here is such a snip in a commercial context:-

"The two organizations [Caltech and the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce] were so closely knit ... they were practically Siamese twins."

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