Explanation of Big Apple NYC name

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 17 03:11:42 UTC 2013

Why New York City Is Known as “The Big Apple”
by Maria Popova


[Begin excerpt]
How come New York City is nicknamed “The Big Apple”? That’s precisely
what ten-year-old Ellen wonders in Does My Goldfish Know Who I Am?
(public library) — that magnificent compendium of big thinkers’
answers to little kids’ questions about how life works, also among the
best children’s books and the best science books of 2013. Author
Philip Gooden, masterful writer about language and history, explains:

[Begin nested quote]
There’s an old American expression “to bet a big apple” and it means
to be very certain of what you’re talking about. Then about a hundred
years ago the “big apple” started to be applied to horse racing in New
York, perhaps because it was the most important center for horse races
or because of the value of the prizes. From there the expression grew
even wider until it came to describe the city itself, especially
during an age when it was one of the most exciting, fast-moving and
glamorous places on Earth.

After a time, advertisers started using the words and even the image
of a large, glossy, unblemished apple because they realized it was a
good way to encourage people to visit the city. It’s true too: New
York is like the biggest apple in the world, the shiny object that
everybody wants a slice of.
[End nested quote]
[End excerpt]

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

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