Can’t hold a candle too

Another not terrible common expression that you might not use a lot but better understand when somebody else uses it:  Can’t hold a candle to something.

Modern interpretation: hoilding the flashlight to ..., pic: wn.com

The expression means not being as good as another person or thing, to be far less competent or have far less skills than someone else.  The expression is used both for people and things as these examples show:

“In terms of performance a Chevy just can’t hold a candle to a Porsche.”

“Jennifer is a good singer, but she can’t really hold a candle to Mary.”

The origin of the expression dates back to the days before electricity where it was often necessary to have a helper who held a candle to perform a task during night time.  Generally holding the candle was the easier of the two tasks and so whoever ended up holding the candle was less qualified than the person performing the actual task – whatever that might be.

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