What does the idiom "mutton dressed as a lamb" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does mutton dressed as a lamb mean? In what situations is mutton dressed as a lamb used?

Meaning of "mutton dressed as a lamb"


The idiom 'mutton dressed as a lamb' is an English expression that is used to refer to someone of an older or more mature age who is attempting to appear youthful, perhaps by wearing excessively trendy or revealing clothing. It suggests that the individual is making an effort to appear younger than they are, therefore making the statement that such efforts can be futile. The statement is usually made to describe someone who is trying to deceive those around them, or to mock those who attempt to take fashion risks beyond their age bracket.


The origin of the phrase 'mutton dressed as a lamb' is uncertain, but it has likely been in use since the mid 1800s. It has its origins in the traditional habit of British farmers to dress a sheep's carcass as a lamb in order to increase the price of the meat they were selling. It is likely that the phrase was derived from this practice, as it has the same connotation of deception.


The idiom is used to describe individuals who attempt to appear more youthful or attractive than their age or position would usually dictate. It is usually used in a slightly mocking or condescending manner, to imply that their efforts are futile and that they would be better off embracing their age and presenting themselves in a more mature fashion. It is sometimes used to criticize people for attempting to look younger than they are, or for dressing inappropriately for their age.

Example Sentences

  • My grandmother loves to wear revealing clothes and high heels, she's mutton dressed as a lamb!
  • I think my boss dresses too young for his age, he's definitely mutton dressed as a lamb.
  • The way he talks and the clothes he wears, he's just a 40-year-old man trying to be a teenager and it's really quite sad - he's mutton dressed as a lamb.

The meanings of the words in the "mutton dressed as a lamb" idiom

Idioms have a common language

"The early bird catches the worm" is an English idiom that means that those who wake up early and start their day early are more likely to succeed. A similar idiom in Spanish is "El que madruga, Dios le ayuda," which translates to "God helps those who rise early." This idiom emphasizes the importance of starting the day early in order to achieve success.


No comment has been written about mutton dressed as a lamb yet, you can write the first comment and share your thoughts with our other visitors.
Leave a Reply