Where Did the Term “Black Sheep” For a Non-Achiever Come From and What Does the Idiom Mean?

Most families have at least one embarrassing loafer who is referred to by the others, and sometimes by himself, as the “black sheep.”

A black sheep is considered worthless because, unlike the majority of sheep, its dark wool cannot be dyed.

Although it takes as much time and nurturing to raise a black sheep as it does any other, its wool has very little market value.

That makes raising it almost a waste of time to the shepherd.

In 18th and 19th century England, the black color of the sheep was seen as the mark of the devil.