Unwelcome person

Posted by R. Berg on May 05, 2002

In Reply to: A cat among pigeons posted by ESC on May 05, 2002

: : : The metaphoric phrase "a cat among pigeons" refers to an undesirable person from the standpoint of a group. I wonder about similar phrases, but perhaps ones that don't imply the element of aggression (cat vs. pigeon). Does anyone have a phrase or phrases that mean the same thing without a 'power differential' being the key element in the undesirability?

: : "Gooseberry" would be one - although that refers only to the unwanted third person hanging around a couple.

: : Germans have the rather nice phrase "das fünfte Rad am Wagen" (the fifth wheel on the car). But both of these raise the question of why the extra person is "undesirable" - situations where the person is simply spare, in the way, or not pulling their weight would need a different descriptive phrase from one where the person is causing trouble in some sort of way.

: : Armorel

: Unwelcome or out of place: I felt like a bastard at a family reunion. I felt like a hog in Sunday school. (That first one might be offensive.)

Slang for an unwelcome person: third wheel, excess baggage, wet blanket, party pooper. For someone who is conspicuously different, no traditional phrases come to mind except "sticks out like a sore thumb." In such situations, writers turn to similes. "She looked as out of place as a dachshund at the Iditarod." "I felt as silly as a meatloaf at a vegetarian cooking school."