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Being a “Black Sheep”

I heard this term from a friend of mine the other day. I knew it but it’s one of those hilarious terms that I forgot about. It’s a good one and pretty easy to understand and remember.

It is a “black sheep”. Here is the idea. Most sheep are white but every once in a while it’s possible to find a black sheep.

If someone is “a bit of a black sheep” it means that they are unusual. They are different than what you would expect. This is not necessarily a bad thing to be, it just means different.

For example, imagine that a husband and wife had 6 kids. If 5 of the kids became doctors and one of the kids became a businessman, you could call the businessman, “a bit of a black sheep”.

Here is the way it could be used in a daily conversation:

A: All of Scott’s brothers and sisters are doctors. I wonder how he decided to start his own business.

B: I’m not really sure but I’ve always known that Scott has been a bit of a black sheep.

49 Responses to “Being a “Black Sheep””

  1. Delia Says:

    I like black sheep. I like everything is out of the ordinary or is not following the crowd.

  2. china232 Says:

    I’d have to say that I’m a big fan of black sheep too. If everyone was a white sheep, what a boring world we’d live in.

  3. valice Says:

    There’s a similar phrase in Russian – ‘a white crow’. It also means that somebody or something is different from others. For instance, all the children are normal, but this one is always thinking about something and building castles in the air. He’s ‘a white crow’ in the class. So, I just wonder if ‘a bit of a black sheep’ has the same meaning, or it’s more negative.

  4. dremka Says:

    In Poland we use this term almost always in a negative way – so as a black sheep you are not only different, you are also a bad person.

  5. andy Says:

    Hey Dremka,

    That’s an interesting cultural difference. I guess that maybe some people here think that way too. Perhaps I like black sheep because I’m a bit of a black sheep myself. Lol.

  6. Bcandid Says:

    This is my first time hearing about this term :)
    You guys are rock! you’re such a black sheep ;)

  7. Moe Says:

    Hey . . . it’s really coool
    I like this one . .
    really useful . . thanx a lot

  8. andy Says:

    Hey Bcandid,

    Thanks. Just one little English tip. Since you said “you guys” ie, more than one person, you don’t need to use “a”. For example it’s correct to say:

    You guys are both black sheep. OR

    You guys are a couple of black sheep.


  9. Bcandid Says:

    Hey Andy,
    I got it thanks a lot, a and an are just for singular :)
    Thank you’re A black sheep dude!

  10. Irene Says:

    In Brazilian Portuguese we have exactly the same term “Ovelha Negra”, but its meaning is negative.

  11. Delia Says:

    yeah, we have the same meaning in Romanian “oaia neagra” but as you probably noticed, Andy said “a bit” of black sheep. It’s a refined, slightly different idea.

  12. rasha Says:

    hell , i want to ask china 232 about this phrase ( do you have it in blue )
    what it mean .

  13. Alex Says:

    Hi there! I came across your site the other day…and here is what I think.
    You seem like nice articulate people that can cobble together a few reasonable pieces of mind and put them out there. But…you guys seem to have trouble getting your point across to the audience. It’s like something there is left unsaid, sometging’s missing, you know what I mean.
    You mentioned a lot of good stuff up there, but you are not coming up with a particular solution. I don’t even know how to put it the way that wouldn’t hurt your feelings or make me come off as too intense and critical (after all it’s just an innocent comment of yours). Anyway, all I am saying is that you gotta learn how to make a good finish to your stories/comments/observation. You’re start really well, but the final part, where you are supposed to reasonably end the story, leaves much to be desired.
    There goes constructive critisism!

  14. Alex Says:

    My post has nothing to do with this “black sheep” thing that you brought up here. I posted under the wrong topic. But DOES go for the stuff you guys write and post.

  15. andy Says:

    Don’t worry Alex,

    It doesn’t hurt my feelings at all. Everyone can have an opinion and I respect that. I don’t totally understand your opinion to be honest but it’s good that you are trying. Luckily there are a lot of podcasts on the net and many have different styles. Perhaps another one would be better suited to you. Some people like our style, some people don’t.

    Please don’t respond to this here either. You are right, a comment like that DOESN’T belong under this article.

  16. Alex Says:

    I don’t need no podcast and,please, don’t tell me what to do. You are delivering (or trying to) service and one of your customers (in this case a listener) is actually trying to help by giving you guys a piece of advice. Instead of going like, I don’t know, like… “I guess I have never thought about it” or something like “I guess you are right, I’m gonna work on that one” , you are getting all defensive and sarcastic.
    I don’t need to learn English (in case if you didn’t notice). Being a mixed child and able to speak four different languages, I am a way better linguist than you guys are.
    I’m currently using these podcasts to teach ESL and just wanted to say that they are not complete enough. That’s about it.You sure can tell me to move on and find another source of free podcasts, but what is the point of cranking out these podcast and blogs of yours if you are ingnoring sensible comments which by the way may help you improve.
    And if you didn’t get my point earlier you could have asked again if you cared about your listeners/users. I you consider this to be an legit approach, then you have a lot of work cut out for ya.

  17. Delia Says:

    Hi Alex and Andy,

    Sorry to butt in your high-level English conversation with my broken non-native English :)

    Alex, I hope you don’t mind and you probably speak more languages but the way you give advice leaves a lot to be desired. Your tone doesn’t invite you for action or listening. It’s always easier to give pieces of advice rather than create something. It’s the easiest thing to do! Plus, when a person gives (unsolicited) advices feels oh so competent! It is always fun to give advice but not so fun to work. Believe or not, I thought about an ending exactly like you and I thought about something like an ending summary of the expression used. On the other hand, there are so many ways to build a creative product. There is no right or wrong when you create something. If you like their product, use it and give them time to grow bigger. I was in a similar situation the other day like you but I realized these two guys are doing such a great job, they are only 2 for the whole job, and they are working their butts off. Last night I was watching Andy answering numerous messages all evening and it’s not fun. Under such circumstances, they can’t take care of all details. Btw their product is meant to be used by people like me and I personally like it a lot. I’m planning on staying around enough time to see them growing bigger and bigger. Their product is perfectible but more importantly, their product is a quality product, is innovative, is pretty structured, is pleasant, is never boring, and is something that I was looking for a long time.

    Andy, I hope you don’t mind but this kind of conversations that I would call “clash of egos” are always interesting to watch. I’ve been a fan of online discussions for a long time and these dynamic dialogues are always beneficial, even though from time to time they get out of hand, but it’s not the case. It makes the conversation and the place interesting to watch from the outside. If I were you, I would provoke more “debates” like this one.

    I promise to bring popcorn! :)

  18. andy Says:

    Well put Delia,

    Thanks for the great comment. I guess a “personality clash” is exactly what it is.

    Believe me, I have A LOT to say about Alex’s last comment but I’d rather move on and just “agree to disagree”. I really hope that the 232 stays a friendly place and doesn’t become a battleground for stuff like that. We can save some heated debates for the VIP.


  19. Bcandid Says:

    Well said Delia,
    Hey Alex you said that is a (There goes constructive criticism!)
    I’m not a native speaker but I can see how offensive was that! It wasn’t a piece of advice actually, it was a piece of crab! Nothing’s perfec anyway including of your spelling!!! check it out! I don’t wanna say more, not in the mood of that!!
    Hey Andy, never mind dude, On the contrary! You got to be happy ’cause that means YOU ARE there doing a Successful work,He is on to a good job ’cause HE IS teaching your lessons! I wonder if he is so good teaching, why would he teach your masterpieces? :)

  20. Delia Says:

    Thank you Bcandid.

  21. Alex Says:

    Big talk, but sounds reasonable.

    “why would he teach your masterpieces?” really? who talks like that? What are you 75?
    quick little tip: don’t say DUDE, it sounds gay/retarded.

    and Andy
    You know that you don’t have too much to say about my last comment. And if you do I would love to hear it, because I have some stuff to say back too. You are mostly dealing with these asian kids who are not able to say Hi without looking embarrased and thinking you are a big shot. Don’t think so.

  22. Alex Says:

    All right, guys!
    This whole thing was supposed to be an innocent and harmless advice. I didn’t mean things to get ugly. I may not be a sweetheart towards you guys, but let’s all be civil.
    Gotta go. Got some kids to teach some real stuff:-) Have a good one!

  23. Delia Says:

    :) Alex, I’m here to practise some writtem English. I really don’t care of it gets ugly or not. It was an opportunity to structure some ideas in English and try to remeber some vocabulary. I’m just having fun. Eventually, we all just a bunch of nicknames, :) Have a good night.

  24. charlie Says:

    Hey guys

    Cool down, here’s another use of “black sheep” I found in the song “Seasons in the sun”. I listened this song when I was a child, and to that date, I was into Western lifestyle and always have been driven to learn English since then:

    Goodbye papa, please pray for me
    I was a black sheep of the family
    You tried to teach me right from wrong


  25. charlie Says:

    In these modern, industrialized days, I don’t know about you but I find that it’s easy to find hate, busy, eager for money but not love, romantic, peace like the old days

  26. rasha Says:

    hi , china 232 , you are doing well , i improve a lot while i using your podcast and the way you are follow is fantastic , i love it , but do not care by negative speech i think this is the tax of success .
    and alex this place for learning not to abuse the other , there is different between advice and abuse if you do not know .

  27. Bcandid Says:

    Not at all Delia :)
    sounds gay!Uh com’on maybe just for those people who are perv actually,just like you, My all native speaker friends are saying that! so I suppose they’re all gays and you’re the only man!! gimme a break please! and for the record I like to 75 than be just like you! if you notice I am not a native speaker and if i was I wouldn’t be here, so I may make mistakes.
    Oh and you (innocent and harmless advice) SPARE IT! work on it to improve your kids, dude! oops that may sounds gay to you should I say Dud instead! lol
    sorry guys this was suppose a place where we learn and have fun not to argue! and Alex if that really was an (innocent and harmless advice)do not post here anymore just use the link below of Contact Us, and apologize for the misunderstanding and share them your thoughts!

    KEEp it up guys you are working great and you’re really a couple of black sheep :) :)

  28. Delia Says:

    Charlie, I am glad I am not the only one into music here, especially old music – oldies but goldies! These songs are so pleasant and relaxing, like good wines. These songs transcend cultures and times. This song you mentioned in your previous posts (“I was the black sheep of the family” sang by Terry Jack – Seasons in the sun) is definitely one of the songs recognized by people around the world. Thank you for refreshing my memory with this song.


  29. Delia Says:

    BTW, this expression “black sheep” appears to be catchy and “international”. There is a Romanian band “Oaia Neagra” (Black Sheep).


  30. Delia Says:

    not bad at all

  31. Delia Says:

    Andy, do you mind posting this kind of music links here on your website from time to time? I don’t want to become an annoying presence here.

  32. Delia Says:

    your feedback would be very appreciated

  33. hadi Says:

    Hi pals,
    what’s going on here?huh?! Are you trying to comment on the ammerican slang – black sheep – or you are raising an argument that’s totally a horse of a different color? Don’t ever let china232 turn to be a place where whatever pumped into your head, write it down here.
    I know you are practising your english, but for what price?
    Please get it over with.
    Andy and Alex, we expect more than that from you.
    I’m done with these comments.

  34. andy Says:

    Hey Delia,

    I don’t mind the odd music link. I’m happy to see everyone on here communicating and sharing some stuff. I want this website to be diverse and about real life.


  35. Delia Says:

    Hi Andy, you are right about “Oaia Neagra”(Black Sheep) music, it’s not exactly my taste but I found interesting to share some cultural differences about the black sheep term, and I accidentally found this band which I have never heard of before. I think it would be interesting a topic with the equivalent of popular sayings or idioms like black sheep. For instance, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” and equivalents in other cultures.

  36. Delia Says:

    another nice idiom : lone wolf
    lone wolf is good friend with the black sheep. they might be even good friends :D

  37. china232 Says:

    Hi Hadi.

    I agree with your sentiment about not getting into a silly argument on the 232 blog post about black sheep. I just want to make sure you know that myself (Andy) and my brother Add are they guys making this site. That’s why I wrote what I did. Add and I don’t want that kind of thing on here either.

  38. Hadi Says:

    Love you lovely teachers
    I’m a big fan of 232

  39. Delia Says:

    Given the situation, being a black sheep isn’t all it’s crack up to be…..

  40. Delia Says:

    black sheep my ass. just a stupid chick.

  41. Chocolate with strawberry Says:

    some black sheep don’t have an easy life.


  42. Delia Says:

    The death of a black sheep (and the flock)

    I like to read comments on articles. I also like to read various articles on the same subject because it gives me a broader detailed perspective on a situation. I don’t like to be manipulated by media. However, I enjoy like crazy reading readers’ comments on controversial subjects. One of the most recent shocking news was the death of Amy Winehouse.

    I saw her for the first time on TV with the video “Rehab” and I wasn’t overly impressed, though the music sounded kind of interesting. In my own self-imposed limits, the subject “drugs” isn’t appealing to me. I take pride in my lucid mind (most of the time…), I’m sometimes even too lucid to fall asleep… So, I watched a batty young singer’s video. A singer that wants to get some attention singing about drugs and rehab. Like, “I do drugs, I’m so cool.” Nothing more boring. Then, I forgot about her and the video quickly. After a while, I discovered some mp3s by accident, while I was wandering in one of my numerous online research escapades. It was “You know I’m no good” and “Back to black”. These two songs sounded pleasantly unusual. I downloaded the album and I listened to it like crazy for weeks. Her sultry voice, her combination of jazz and R&B kept me interested long enough to remember her and to include some songs among my favorites. I always follow the destiny of interesting characters that keep surprising me. I started to learn more and more about her in magazines and news, I studied her unusual look, her unusual style, with heavy eyeliner, big bun, and a combination of a bit of androgynous and feminine sexiness at the same time. Compared with popular pretty female singers like Beyonce, Shakira or Christina Aguilera, she was a bit of a man, and, let’s face it, majority likes very sexy, pretty, Barbie-like singers. Moreover, she used to do drugs, drank alcohol, and had numerous fights with her ex-husband; she went on stage drunk, and so on. She was a black sheep in every sense of the word! I remember an interesting discussion with a sexy young College English teacher a couple of years ago about this Amy Winehouse and his comment was like “Nooo, she’s too much, she looks so bad because of drugs, bla bla bla”. He was a bit disappointed because he was smart, good-looking but predictable, an average Joe trying to look classy. I can’t say that I was the biggest fan of Amy Winehouse, but I liked her songs very much, she was highly talented, and she was definitely an interesting edgy appearance among Barbie singers. Am I the only one who sees that?

    Sadly, she’s dead at 27 like Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix. I can’t shed a tear because even though I liked her, I wasn’t madly in love like I was with Axl Rose when I was in my early twenties. And now I’m closing the loop here: What really enraging me is the attitude of many anonymous comments after articles. “She is overrated”, “She’s a drug addict, we should blame her not make her a heroine”, “She died. Big deal”, “So many drug addicts die and no one knows about them” bla bla bla A.W. always stoke me as a famous but very complicated and unhappy person, surrounded with a irresponsible family (or ex-family), struggling with the pressure of fame and addiction. Any early death is sad, and it’s not even matter what was cause for us, the unknown people. People feel so important making derogatory comments on the death of a singer that couldn’t manage her unhappy destiny but who won 5 Grammys before 27! The flock, the judgmental flock strikes again… Am I crazy? I feel only compassion for her short unhappy life and regret for a wasted talent. These are the only emotions I feel. It is beyond my understanding how some people can feel disgust or express disapproval for some fans’ sadness…and the saddest part is I can’t do anything about these narrow-minded people. What I feel for them is embarrassment. We should be all forced to learn, along with the alphabet, the basics of genuine compassion and consideration for any being.

    Good night, dark angel.


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