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November 20, 2007

#01-039: Fruit Idioms - Part II: Apples and Oranges

an apple and an orange
Can you compare these?
(Wikipedia)

Note: More fruit, please! Idioms often use common items, sometimes things that have been around for centuries. Apples are very old indeed!


Get Ready: Can you name some fruits that were not mentioned in this lesson or the previous one, for example watermelons, or apricots?


Last time, we saw two girls talking. They used expressions with the names of fruit in them. Let's continue the conversation.

Laverne: Being with Lenny is too much work. But I guess he's better than Bob was.

Shirley: Come on, you're comparing apples and oranges. Bob wasn't a good person; Lenny is so wholesome, a real "Mom and apple pie" kind of guy.

Laverne: Yeah, but life with him isn't always a bowl of cherries. Guys are so useless!

Shirley: Oh, that's just sour grapes. Don't let one bad apple spoil the whole barrel!

Laverne: Well, we'll see...

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Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apples_and_oranges


Practice: Match the idiom to its meaning.

  1. apples and oranges
  2. bowl of cherries
  3. Mom and apple pie
  4. one bad apple (can) spoil the whole barrel
  5. sour grapes

  1. the spirit of America: decent, honest, and wholesome
  2. a negative person can have a negative influence on a lot of good ones
  3. wonderful
  4. thinking something is worthless because you can't have it
  5. two things that are very unlike each other

Answers are in the first comment below.


Here's the rest of the conversation, with the meanings substituted for the idioms:

Laverne: Being with Lenny is too difficult. But I guess Lenny is better than Bob was.

Shirley: Come on, you're comparing two people who can't be compared at all. Bob wasn't a good person; Lenny is so wholesome, a real decent, wholesome person.

Laverne: Yeah, but life with him isn't always wonderful. Guys are so useless!

Shirley: Oh, you're just saying that because you can't find a decent man. Don't give up on all men because you've met one bad one!

Laverne: Well, we'll see... 


Explanation of the Answers: After you check your answers in the first comment below, read on for more information on these techniques.

  1. (to compare) apples and oranges: A fairly recent expression, it is usually understood to mean that it's difficult to compare two things that are very unlike each other. Personally, I find apples and oranges easy to compare. But a deeper understanding of the expression tells us not to judge an orange by the standards of an apple: "This orange isn't red enough," etc. 
  2. (life is) a bowl of cherries: It means that life is wonderful; it's the title of a song from back in 1931.
  3. Mom and apple pie: An expression that is said to capture the spirit of America. We do our patriotic duties "for Mom and apple pie." It carries a secondary meaning of decent, honest, and wholesome.
  4. one bad apple (can) spoil the whole barrel: This proverb means that one bad member of a group can have a bad influence on all the good ones. In this case, Shirley is telling Laverne not to let one "bad apple" (Lenny) cause her to give up on all the "apples" (other men).
  5. sour grapes: This means calling something worthless because you can't have it. In a story by Aesop, a fox tries to get some grapes. When he can't reach them, he declares that they must be sour anyway. Laverne calls guys "useless" because she can't find one.


Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for November 20, 2007

This lesson and Part I received a combined 2075 visits on my old site between December, 2011, and June, 2021.

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