The phrase "runt of the litter" refers to the smallest or weakest member among a group of siblings, particularly in animals. It's often used in a metaphorical sense to describe an individual perceived as the least significant in a set or group.
"Runt of the litter" points to the smallest or weakest individual in a group, often regarded as less significant or competent than the others.
The phrase typically describes the smallest or weakest member of a group, particularly in the context of siblings. It can also carry a metaphorical meaning.
Let's break down its central meanings and related expressions:
The phrase "runt of the litter" refers to the smallest or weakest member of a litter of animals. The term "runt" originates from the late 15th century Middle English word "runt," which refers to a fully grown animal that is significantly smaller than average for its species or breed. The term often referred to the smallest pig of the litter.
"Herman, the runt of the litter, became Danny's favorite pet. After moving to Sunshine Island, Herman proved himself to be a hero and became an even more important member of the family."
- Herman, the Brave Pig, Miriam E. Mason, 1949
Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:
The phrase "runt of the litter" appears in various media forms, highlighting the trials, triumphs, and often the unexpected capabilities of the underdog.
Let's look at some examples:
There are several expressions that convey a similar meaning to "runt of the litter."
Some of these include:
These phrases can be used interchangeably depending on the context and the perceived stature or capability of the individual.
"Runt of the litter" refers to the smallest or weakest individual in a group, often perceived as less significant or competent than others in the group.
You can use "runt of the litter" to describe the least powerful, smallest, or least competent member in a group, such as "Despite being the runt of the litter, he outperformed his siblings."
The phrase originates from the old English word "runt," which referred to a fully grown but abnormally small animal. It's now used to denote the smallest or weakest animal in a litter.
Not necessarily. While it initially suggests weakness or insignificance, the "runt of the litter" can often surprise others with their capabilities or achievements.
Yes, the phrase can be used to highlight the unexpected success or capabilities of an underestimated individual or entity.
No, the phrase "runt of the litter" can be used metaphorically to refer to humans or even non-living entities like companies or countries.
Yes, as in "Despite being the runt of the litter, he eats the most."
It depends on the context and the receiver's perception. While it can be used in an endearing or inspirational way, it might also be seen as offensive if it's taken as an insult.
While it initially suggests inferiority, the phrase often carries the connotation of underestimated potential or abilities.
Yes, "runt of the litter" can be used in professional contexts to refer to the smallest or least significant member of a group, often with the expectation of surprising achievements.
The idiom "runt of the litter" conveys the idea of being the smallest or weakest member in a group. While it initially suggests weakness or insignificance, it often implies the potential for unexpected strength or success.
Here's a quick recap:
The phrase "runt of the litter" reminds us that size or initial perception doesn't always dictate capability or potential. Just because someone is viewed as less significant or powerful today doesn't mean they won't rise above and surpass expectations tomorrow.