Today we have some fun with English fruit idioms that you will hear in everyday English conversation here in Britain. There are a lot of fruit themed idioms in use today, far more than you would expect. I guess we all like fruit and it’s something we all have in common so it’s a powerful way of communicating something we would (or should) understand.
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Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. If you’re learning English, we are your good friend as we provide you with lots of authentic English to listen to. We have podcasts, like this one, and in fact every week we release two new podcasts. So if you’ve just found us, then go to our website at adeptenglish.com and you’ll find much, much more. And if you’re a regular listener, then please tell your friends and family about us, if they’re learning English too.
So today we’re going to do some Fruit Idioms. If you’ve listened to Adept English podcasts before, you’ll know that from time to time we cover idioms of various kinds. And an idiom, which is spelt I-D-I-O-M is a saying, something we say, which has a literal meaning, but which also has a non-literal meaning, a meaning which cannot be understood from the words themselves. English has lots of idioms, you probably know some already. The meaning may not be obvious. So what we’re focused on today is Fruit Idioms. So there’s not really any point me just listing all the fruit idioms that I can think of. There are a lot. Instead how about we just look at three of them, so that you may remember them, or at least recognise them when you hear them?
What about these Fruit Idioms then? There are lots more, but hare are three good ones.
- To compare apples and oranges
- To take another bite of the cherry
- Go pear shaped
So I’m imagining that you know words for fruit – it’s the kind of vocabulary that you learn in your English classes at school? Apples, oranges, bananas, plums, raspberries, strawberries etc. are all types of fruit. So if we go with the idiom first of all ‘to compare apples and oranges’. An apple is a very common fruit and we grow lots of them in the UK. Perhaps if I say some varieties, some types, you’ll recognise apple – which is A-P-P-L-E. Think of Granny Smiths, or Golden Delicious, or Bramley’s - they’re all apples. And an orange? That’s O-R-A-N-G-E Well, they’re a citrus fruit, they’re orange, like the colour that is – and you might drink orange juice at breakfast time. Jaffa is a type of orange. And the verb ‘to compare’? Well if you compare something, usually two things, it means you’re looking at what are the bad parts of this – and what are the good parts of that. You might even arrive, through comparison at ‘which one is best’ or ‘which one is better’ if there are two. But if you hear someone say
‘Ah, but I think we’re comparing apples and oranges here’, what do they mean?
Well they probably aren’t actually talking about fruit! So just imagine if you were to compare apples with oranges, instead of comparing apples with other apples or oranges with other oranges. Well, these two types of fruit are not very similar. They are both fruit, but they’re not much the same. So what the person who say ‘Ah, but I think we’re comparing apples and oranges here’, what they’re saying, itmeans ‘Be careful, we are talking about and trying to compare two completely different things here’. So ‘we’re comparing apples with oranges’ means that we’re trying to see similarities, but perhaps there aren’t that many.
A similarity is a thing that is similar. So let’s use an example. Perhaps you’re trying to compare two bicycles, but one is a bike used by a professional cyclist and the other bicycle belongs to your grandmother. Notice the word ‘bike’, B-I-K-E is short for ‘bicycle’. It means the same thing. So these two bikes, your grandmother’s and the bike belonging to the professional cyclist? Well, they’re both bikes, but they’re hardly likely to be the same. If you made a comparison of those bikes, then you’d really be comparing apples and oranges. So you’re comparing two things which are broadly in the same category – they’re both bikes, and apples and oranges are both fruit. But beyond that there aren’t really many things which are the same.
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OK. What about ‘another bite at the cherry’ or ‘to take another bite at the cherry’? There’s another of these Fruit Idioms for you. So a cherry – C-H-E-R-R-Y, is a berry, which grows on a tree. Cherries are delicious – they’re probably my favourite fruit and in May and June when cherries are in season, I’m quite happy to sit down with a bowl and eat them all. They have what we call ‘a stone’ in the middle, like plums do as well – it’s really a hard seed. And cherries are what is in what is called Kirsch, if that helps you? And a type of cherry might be Morello. Anyway ‘another bite at the cherry’ - a bite is when you use your teeth. If you’re eating something, especially something like bread – you will take a bite, that’s B-I-T-E. And also there’s a verb ‘to bite’, and a noun ‘a bite’.
A photograph of a man holding a baby you cannot tell the gender of the baby. Used to help explain English grammar she, he and they.
So if you’re taking ‘another bite at the cherry’, you’ve had one bite already and you’re having another bite. I’m not sure why cherries are used in this phrase – if I’m eating cherries, then they seem to fit quite easily into my mouth as a whole! I don’t need to take bites. But anyway, what does the phrase mean? It means basically, ‘another bite at the cherry’, that you’re going to have another go, another try at something. Supposing you’re driving round and round, trying to park your car. And you don’t know the town very well, so you see the entrance to the car park you’re looking for, but you miss it first time. It’s too late. So you drive around again – you might say here that you’re having ‘another bite at the cherry’, trying to get into the car park. If you’ve been learning English for a while and you stop for a reason. And then a bit later on, you decide again that you’re going to tyr and learn English, you might say ‘I’m having another bite at the cherry!
So finally in this podcast on Fruit Idioms what about this one? ‘To go pear-shaped’? Well, a pear is a fruit which is rather like an apple. But it’s much more delicate in flavour and it’s hard to catch them when they’re ripe, when they’re just ready to eat. Pears are not round like an apple, they’re narrow at the top and wider at the bottom. So perhaps this is a bit sexist, but sometimes peoples’ body shapes, and especially women’s body shapes are referred to as ‘pear-shaped’. So that they’re wider at the bottom than they are at the top – shaped like a pear, in effect. It’s unclear whether this is where this idiom comes from. There is some evidence online that this may be a term, or a phrase which originates from pottery andmaking pots. So pots can ‘go pear-shaped’ when you’re making them. It means suddenly they ‘flop’ and become wider at the bottom. Doesn’t really matter what the origin is, but it’s interestng.
Anyway, what does it mean, if something is said to have ‘gone pear-shaped’? Well, it means it’s gone badly wrong. The project, the venture has failed – and it’s not just failed, but it’s failed rather spectacularly. This phrase is common in Britain, but it’s also getting used much more in the US as well, especially when it’s being used to mean the failure of a business or an economic failure.
So it’s ‘all gone pear-shaped’ means it’s all gone wrong. You might talk about a bank robbery or even a house robber, you know, if someone gets hurt or injured. Or your new business – suddenly it’s not making any money. In fact, perhaps it’s losing money. It’s all gone pear-shaped. Or you might talk about an athlete, who’s having a bad season. Say….it’s Wimbledon at the moment…..a bad tennis season. You know, it might be that they feel their career has all ‘gone pear-shaped’.
Anyway, there are three Fruit Idioms for you. There are plenty more of them to learn, but that’s probably enough in one go. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.