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the usually round, red or yellow, edible fruit of a small tree, Malus sylvestris, of the rose family.
the tree, cultivated in most temperate regions.
the fruit of any of certain other species of tree of the same genus.
any of these trees.
any of various other similar fruits, or fruitlike products or plants, as the , , , or .
anything resembling an apple in size and shape, as a ball, especially a baseball.
Bowling. an ineffectively bowled ball.
Slang. a red capsule containing a barbiturate, especially secobarbital.
Contemporary Examples

But the apple founder thought that Obama should have asked himself.
Juiciest Bits From the Steve Jobs Bio October 22, 2011

apple lost $1 billion in 1996 and $708 million in the first three months of 1997, and was in a vicious death spiral.
Is Steve Jobs Obsolete? Alan Deutschman June 7, 2009

Getting Chernin for apple would kind of seem like a stroke of genius.
Will Peter Chernin Take Over Apple? Sharon Waxman February 25, 2009

Coca-Cola is also followed by 1.9 million people on Twitter, where apple has no official presence.
Apple Leaves Coke Flat in Global Top Brand Survey September 29, 2013

apple right now stands as the second-most valuable company of any kind in the world.
Don’t Worry About Apple! Dan Lyons July 18, 2011

Historical Examples

It should have broken when it hit the branch of the apple tree.
Blacky the Crow Thornton W. Burgess

It is in the brain that the poppy is red, that the apple is odorous, that the skylark sings.
De Profundis Oscar Wilde

How could he give the apple to any else but this enslaver—this joy of gods and men?
The Newcomes William Makepeace Thackeray

apple sauce is eaten with roast pork, roast goose and roast ducks.
Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches Eliza Leslie

They serve a good piece of apple pie, and we had that with our coffee.
The Trouble with Telstar John Berryman

a rosaceous tree, Malus sieversii, native to Central Asia but widely cultivated in temperate regions in many varieties, having pink or white fragrant flowers and firm rounded edible fruits See also crab apple
the fruit of this tree, having red, yellow, or green skin and crisp whitish flesh
the wood of this tree
any of several unrelated trees that have fruits similar to the apple, such as the custard apple, sugar apple, and May apple See also love apple, oak apple, thorn apple
apple of one’s eye, a person or thing that is very precious or much loved
bad apple, rotten apple, a person with a corrupting influence

Old English æppel “apple; any kind of fruit; fruit in general,” from Proto-Germanic *ap(a)laz (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch appel, Old Norse eple, Old High German apful, German Apfel), from PIE *ab(e)l “apple” (cf. Gaulish avallo “fruit;” Old Irish ubull, Lithuanian obuolys, Old Church Slavonic jabloko “apple”), but the exact relation and original sense of these is uncertain (cf. melon).

A roted eppel amang þe holen, makeþ rotie þe yzounde. [“Ayenbite of Inwit,” 1340]

In Middle English and as late as 17c., it was a generic term for all fruit other than berries but including nuts (e.g. Old English fingeræppla “dates,” literally “finger-apples;” Middle English appel of paradis “banana,” c.1400). Hence its grafting onto the unnamed “fruit of the forbidden tree” in Genesis. Cucumbers, in one Old English work, are eorþæppla, literally “earth-apples” (cf. French pomme de terre “potato,” literally “earth-apple;” see also melon). French pomme is from Latin pomum “apple; fruit” (see Pomona).

As far as the forbidden fruit is concerned, again, the Quran does not mention it explicitly, but according to traditional commentaries it was not an apple, as believed by Christians and Jews, but wheat. [“The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity,” Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 2002]

Apple of Discord (c.1400) was thrown into the wedding of Thetis and Peleus by Eris (goddess of chaos and discord), who had not been invited, and inscribed kallisti “To the Prettiest One.” Paris, elected to choose which goddess should have it, gave it to Aphrodite, offending Hera and Athene, with consequences of the Trojan War, etc.

Apple of one’s eye (Old English), symbol of what is most cherished, was the pupil, supposed to be a globular solid body. Apple-polisher “one who curries favor” first attested 1928 in student slang. The image of something that upsets the apple cart is attested from 1788. Road apple “horse dropping” is from 1942.


A ball, esp a baseball
A street or district where excitement may be found (1930s+ Jazz musicians)
Any large town or city (1930s+ Jazz musicians)
A Native American who has taken on the values and behavior of the white community; uncle tomahawk

Related Terms

alley apple, the big apple, horse apple, smart apple, sure as god made little green apples, swallow the apple, wise guy

A revision of APL for the Illiac IV.

Apple Computer, Inc.

(Heb. tappuah, meaning “fragrance”). Probably the apricot or quince is intended by the word, as Palestine was too hot for the growth of apples proper. It is enumerated among the most valuable trees of Palestine (Joel 1:12), and frequently referred to in Canticles, and noted for its beauty (2:3, 5; 8:5). There is nothing to show that it was the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Dr. Tristram has suggested that the apricot has better claims than any other fruit-tree to be the apple of Scripture. It grows to a height of 30 feet, has a roundish mass of glossy leaves, and bears an orange coloured fruit that gives out a delicious perfume. The “apple of the eye” is the Heb. _ishon_, meaning manikin, i.e., the pupil of the eye (Prov. 7:2). (Comp. the promise, Zech. 2:8; the prayer, Ps. 17:8; and its fulfilment, Deut. 32:10.) The so-called “apple of Sodom” some have supposed to be the Solanum sanctum (Heb. hedek), rendered “brier” (q.v.) in Micah 7:4, a thorny plant bearing fruit like the potato-apple. This shrub abounds in the Jordan valley. (See ENGEDI.)

apple a day
apple of one’s eye
apple polisher

also see:

polish the apple
rotten apple
upset the applecart


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