Apples and oranges
Apples and oranges is a common English idiom. It is used to describe unlike objects or people. One of the most well-known bits of popular wisdom in the English-speaking world is that apples and oranges cannot be compared. The ability to tell apples from oranges is learned.
History[change | change source]
This idiom began as a comparison of "apples and oysters" in a book of proverbs published in 1670. This idiom has become a marker in English-speaking culture. Idioms are a common stumbling block for learners of a language.
Variants[change | change source]
The idiom is not uniquely English.
In French-speaking Quebec, the idiom is comparer des pommes avec des oranges (to compare apples and oranges), In Europe, the French idiom is comparer des pommes et des poires (to compare apples and pears).
Comparison[change | change source]
In order to compare anything, there needs to be a theory to be proven and framework for testing the theory. Three basic questions come first:
- What are we comparing?
- Are the subjects good for comparing?
- Do the measures of comparison function in the same or similar ways?
Scientific research[change | change source]
The idiom has inspired scientific research projects. For example, the British Medical Journal published a study of red delicious apples compared with navel oranges. They were found to have many similarities.
There are differences in nutritional value.
Experiments at NASA Ames Research Center showed that apples and oranges decay at similar rates.
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
- Amer, Christine. 1997. The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. p19
- Glenn, Patrick. 2007. Legal traditions of the world: sustainable diversity in law, p43.
- Fahle M. 2005. "Learning to tell apples from oranges," Trends in Cognitive Science. 9(10):455-7; excerpt, "sorting them into the correct perceptual categories. Without categories, apples could not be discriminated from oranges"; retrieved 2012-4-4.
- Heacock, Paul 2003. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms, p9.
- Nuala O'Sullivan, Nuala and Geraldine Woods. 2010. English grammar workbook for Dummies, p225.
- Amer p19, citing John Ray. 1670. A collection of English proverbs.
- Wulf, Steven J. 2008. A philosophical theory of citizenship: obligation, authority, and membership. p36
- Barnett, William. 2011. Getting it wrong: how faulty monetary statistics undermine the Fed, the financial system, and the economy, p22.
- Barnett, p. 23.
- Hofstede, Geert. (1998). "A case for comparing apples with oranges: international differences in values" in Values and attitudes across nations and time. p16
- Barone, James E. "Comparing apples and oranges: a randomised prospective study," British Journal of Medicine (BMJ). 2000 December 23; 321(7276): 1569–1570; retrieved 2012-4-4.
- RoadtoNutrition.com, "Orange juice vs. apple juice"; retrieved 2012-4-4.
- Improbable.com citing Scott. (1995). "Apples and Oranges -- a comparison," NASA Ames Research Center.
Further reading[change | change source]
- Cummins RO, Hazinski MF. "Apples and oranges," Annals of Emergency Medicine (Ann Emerg Med). 1999;33:602–603.
- Johnson W. "Comparing apples with oranges," Archives of Internal Medicine (Arch Intern Med). 1998;158:1591–1592.
- Lubarsky DA. "Comparing apples to oranges," Anesthesia and Analgesia. (Anesth Analg). 1995 Aug;8:428–429.
- Moayyedi P. "Meta-analysis: can we mix apples and oranges?" American Journal of Gastroentrology (Am J Gastroenterol). 2004 Dec;99(12):2297-301.
Other websites[change | change source]
- Smithsonian.com, Comparing Apples and Oranges