Not too long ago, we explored the expression “As American as apple pie” and other “as . . . as” expressions in English. To celebrate the upcoming fall season, today we are looking at expressions with apple. Apples and pumpkins are the fruits most often associated with fall, and there are many expressions with apple that English speakers use on a regular basis. 

Idioms with “apple”

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

This proverb suggests that apples are good for  you, and that if you eat one every day, you will stay healthy. (Fun fact: the proverb was created by the American apple industry to remind citizens of the healthy effects of apples: for many years, they were used to make alcoholic apple cider, and were associated with drunkards! Watch Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire to learn more: you can view the entire documentary, which is based on his book of the same name, here.)

The apple of (someone’s) eye

Someone’s favorite person. My son is the apple of my eye. 

Apples and oranges

An expression used when two things that are not similar are being compared. I don’t know which pie I like best: the strawberry rhubarb or the chocolate cream. They are apples and oranges!

The Big Apple

A nickname for New York City. We spent New Year’s Eve in the Big Apple. 

“How ’bout them apples?” and “How do you like them apples?”

A expression to ask someone, “What do you think of that?”
One of the most famous uses of this expression occurs in the movie Good Will Hunting. Check out the clip below to see how the character Will, played by Matt Damon, uses the expression. (Warning: there is some foul language in this clip.)

Bad/rotten apple

A bad person or thing. The last employee didn’t work out very well, which is a shame because most people I hire are excellent employees. He was just a bad apple. 

A rotten apple spoils the barrel

A proverb which suggests that a bad person influences everyone he or she comes into contact with. Everyone in our band got along really well, but then Gary joined us and we all started fighting. I guess a rotten apple spoils the barrel. 

Upset the apple cart

To ruin something. I want to talk to my roommate about how loud she is, but I don’t want to upset the apple cart and have an awkward living situation. 


To get yourself in the fall spirit, why not do something incredibly American: eat apple pie! This article in SF Weekly provides an excellent list of the best pie places in San Francisco. Sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, banana cream pie . . . the city is full of bakeries cooking up these delectable treats! San Diego Magazine also offers a great list of pie companies in San Diego. You can’t go wrong with a strawberry rhubarb or cherry pie! For even more pie information, check out our post on the best pies and desserts.