OED Appeals: "rotten apple in every barrel"

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Tue Sep 16 15:31:13 UTC 2008

On Tue, Sep 16, 2008 at 11:22:48AM -0400, Laurence Horn wrote:
> Actually, I could never figure out which was the original version,
> since I don't know enough about agricultural or botanical issues to
> determine whether a rotten apple does or doesn't affect the others in
> the same barrel or bag.  I suppose we can apply for funding and do
> the study, controlling for different apple varieties and degrees of
> rottenness.  The season is coming right up!

I confess that I haven't followed this thread, but the OED
entry that includes this (APPLE n. Phrases P2) has examples
back to 1340, and cites an earlier Latin antecedent; it's
defined as "Phrases referring to the powerful corrupting
influence of a single rotten apple on other good apples

I apologize if this has already been mentioned.

Jesse Sheidlower

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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