"The Big Apple" -- one more incorrect etymology

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Dec 21 15:30:40 UTC 2013

On Dec 21, 2013, at 10:12 AM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:

> Barry Popik has informed me of one more incorrect etymology for "The Big Apple". He writes about it on his website (barrypopik.com),
> and I now forward his item to ads-l. Btw, anyone familiar with New York City knows that the suggestion of an apple tree growing
> on every street is nonsense.

You do realize that this "etymology" is proposed by Ron Burgundy, yes?  (Or at least by someone in his biopic, which I confess I haven't seen; I'm not sure what to infer from the wording below--"it's explained".)  I think this is a different category from the seriously proposed (or even seriously bluffed) explanations invoking Eve's Apples house of prostitution or…I seem to have repressed the other suggestions that have appeared in at least purportedly serious print.  A debunking is hardly in order here.

> Gerald Cohen
> co-author (with Barry Popik), _Origin of New York City's Nickname "The Big Apple"_ ,  2nd edition, 2011 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang).
> P.S. Popik's extraordinary website (a true labor of love) now contains over 10,000 entries.
> [Item posted on barrypopik.com]:
> Entry from December 20, 2013
> An Apple Tree on Every Street (2013 movie explanation)
> In the comedy film Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), television news anchorman Ron Burgundy (played by actor Will Ferrell) takes a job with e 24-hour news channel in New York City. It’s explained that New York City is called the “Big Apple” because there’s an apple tree on every street.
> This is not true, of course.
> Wikipedia: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
> Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a 2013 American comedy film, and the sequel to the 2004 film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. As with the original film, it is directed by Adam McKay, produced by Judd Apatow, written by McKay and Will Ferrell, and stars Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate all reprising their roles from the first film. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is distributed by Paramount Pictures. The film was released on December 18, 2013 to positive reviews.
> Plot
> With the 70s behind him, San Diego’s top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy, returns to take New York’s first 24-hour news channel by storm.
> Twitter
> cole santa
> ‏@colestewart4
> “Whys it called the big apple?” “Because there is an apple tree on every street”
> 11:52 PM - 17 Dec 13
> Twitter
> jack lame
> ‏@alrightcoool
> “They call it the big apple because there’s an apple tree on every street.”
> “That’s a fact. Google it.”
> “Is it really?”
> “No.” @versusshae
> 4:00 PM - 18 Dec 13
> theVINE
> ANTHONY MORRIS Wednesday 18 Dec 2013 - 9:30 AM
> Anchorman 2: The Legend Of Dumb Jokes Continues
> (...)
> Our story begins – well, it begins with Ron about to be eaten by a shark, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. It’s the 80s, and Ron (Will Ferrell) and his now wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are husband and wife newsreaders in the Big Apple (so named because there’s an apple tree on every corner – and if you look closely, it’s true!).
> Twitter
> Robbie Panasuk
> ‏@PimpDaddyPan
> Why do they call it the big apple? Well I believe it’s because there’s an apple tree on the corner of every street.
> 10:36 AM - 18 Dec 13
> Twitter
> Taylor Bear
> ‏@taymac98
> Jack thought that there was an apple tree on every street in New York and that was why it was called the big apple…
> 3:03 PM - 20 Dec 13
> Twitter
> Dale Duignan
> ‏@daledegz
> According to anchorman New York is called the big apple cos there is an apple tree on every street
> 7:19 PM - 20 Dec 13
> Posted by Barry Popik
> New York City • The Big Apple • 1970s-present: False Etymologies • Friday, December 20, 2013 • Permalink
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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