What are some common English idioms – current and past – built around fruit?
Apple of your eye
Now this is a person who makes you proud; tops on your list.
Like Comparing Apples and Oranges
These two things are too dissimilar; you can’t really compare them.
Apple Pie Order
Organized, neat, beautifully arranged.
As we see in Somerset Maugham’s 1902 novel Mrs. Craddock: ‘The result of his stewardship was all that could be desired; the estate was put in apple-pie order, and the farms paid rent for the first time since twenty years.’
The boss. The person sitting atop the hierarchy. The headliner in a multi-performer show.
That’s The Berries
Nifty. Swell. The cat’s meow. Popular in the Twenties.
Life is a bowl of cherries.
The days and weeks are pleasant, easy, nothing but good times. 🎢
The cherry on the cake
A final touch that nudges something that was already good into greatness.
To choose the best option from a group. In arguments, to choose the fact that best illustrates your point.
Cool as a Cucumber
Clutch. Calm and effective under pressure.
A plum job
Now that’s a job worth grappling for. Good on you if you get it.
Not So Pleasant
A lousy sort who is likely to corrupt others in the group.
Upset the apple cart
Now look who’s gone and ruined all our plans.
Second in command. The second most exciting person on stage tonight.
Slip on a banana skin
Eep. Make an awkward, humiliating blunder.
Give or Care A Fig
As in, “I don’t …” I couldn’t care less. Here we see the phrase used in an excerpt from Edward Lear’s 1871 poem The Jumblies.
… In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, ‘You’ll all be drowned!’
They called aloud, ‘Our Sieve ain’t big,
But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig! …
Bitter. This person is bad-mouthing something, just because they cannot have it.
The answer’s a lemon
A thoroughly unsatisfactory answer. Lemons might have been chosen to represent duds as they were the lowest value fruit on slot machines.
Squeeze an orange
Wrench out every last bit of profit.
Everything is great. Just great. But is it? Wise to look to non-verbals for confirmation here. Tread with extra precaution if preceded by the word ‘just.’
The rough end of the pineapple
To be treated badly, unfairly.
Artwork by Severin Roesen.
Header: Still Life with a Basket of Fruit. 1852
Painting 2: Fruit Still Life in a Landscape. ~1862-72