Apple-pie order

Apple-pie order is an idiom with an uncertain origin. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase, or phrasal verbs that have a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. These figures of speech or literary devices often use descriptive imagery; common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often colloquialisms or descriptors that are spoken or are considered informal or conversational. An idiom may be a euphemism, an understatement or exaggeration, or an expression of irony or hyperbole. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase or expression that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, bite the bullet, red herring, hit the nail on the head, kick the bucket, blow off steam, jump on the bandwagon, piece of cake, hit the sack, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. It is possible to memorize a list of idioms, but it may be easier to pay attention to the use of idioms in everyday speech, where peculiar imagery will tell you that the expressions should not be taken literally. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase apple-pie order, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Apple-pie order means neat and tidy, everything in order, all things in their place. Synonyms for apple-pie order that may be found in a thesaurus are orderly, precise, tidy, systematized, well-kept. The idiom apple-pie order has been in use since the 1700s, but its origin is uncertain. The earliest known use was by Sir Thomas Pasley in his work, Private Sea Journals, from 1780: “Their Persons Clean and in apple-Pie order on Sundays.” Most believe that apple-pie order is a corruption of a French phrase, either nappe-pliée, which means folded napkin, or cap-à-pie, which means head to foot. Note that apple-pie order is properly rendered with one hyphen, though the term apple pie, on its own, does not take a hyphen.


My personal take on apple-pie order is that it is a scheme which primarily values precision and exactness, not at the price of functionality nor as a sacrifice to convenience (though admittedly too much judgement and refinement may spoil that which at first is a delicate thing). (The Millstone News)

All seemed in apple-pie order, for once, and if Wayne Hennessey had not saved brilliantly from Lacazette their capacity for setting themselves riddles would have been sorely tested. (The Guardian)

I left class on Wednesday, my coursework in apple-pie order, looking forward to finishing an assignment and beginning to bake my first layer cake in a loooong while! (The Christian Science Monitor)

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