Apple-Polish – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Apple-polishing might bring to mind the image of a shiny apple, but it has an entirely different meaning in the realm of idiomatic expressions. But what could this strange expression possibly mean? I’ll look at this intriguing phrase and teach you about its application in language.

What Is the Meaning of Apple-Polish?

Apple Polish Idiom Origin Meaning

To apple-polish is to ingratiate yourself or curry favor with someone, but usually through flattery or extra efforts beyond what’s required or expected. It’s like metaphorically presenting an apple to a person of authority, hoping for something more than the usual response.

It’s an easy thing to spot among children, that’s for sure. They can be total monsters in one moment, and a few seconds of apple-polishing can almost make you forget all about their horrible behavior.

Apple Polishing or Apple-Polishing

To get super specific, it’s apple-polish, apple-polished and apple-polishing when you’re using it as a verb. The hyphen is significant in binding the two words together, forming a unified meaning separate from the individual words.

  • Don’t apple-polish me; it’ll do you no good.
  • The student apple-polished the professor to get better grades.
  • Her constant compliments and apple-polishing are annoying.

Origin and Etymology of Apple-Polish

The noun apple-polisher comes from the early 1900s and the old-school tradition where students would bring polished apples to their teachers as a gesture of goodwill or an attempt to gain favor. This practice, mostly seen in the United States, led to the creation of this idiomatic expression and the verb apple-polish.

Synonyms for Apple-Polish

There are tons of other fun words you can use in place of apple-polish. Here are just a few to try!

  • Brown-nose
  • Ingratiate
  • Flatter
  • Butter up
  • Suck up to
  • Curry favor
  • Kowtow

Apple-Polish Examples in a Sentence

Apple Polish Idiom Origin Meaning 1

For such a strange phrase, it’s good to see it in the full context of a sentence so you can learn how to slip it into a conversation.

  • Don’t try to apple-polish your way into getting a promotion because our boss can smell a brown-noser a mile away.
  • Jane was well-known for her apple-polishing tactics whenever the boss was around.
  • He didn’t need to apple-polish to be liked; Jake’s genuine honesty and kindness were more than enough to create a circle of great friends.
  • I don’t think that apple-polishing isn’t a strategy for long-term success.
  • The assistant manager resented the new employee’s constant attempts to apple-polish the head manager.
  • Instead of resorting to apple-polishing, learn to show your capabilities through hard work and dedication.
  • I hate how some people apple-polish to get ahead because it almost always leads to a lack of respect.

Don’t Be a Suck-Up!

Understanding the concept of apple-polish opens up a new perspective on language and human behavior, doesn’t it? It’s definitely a reminder of the importance of authenticity and merit over flattery. And there’s more where this came from! Go check out my plethora of helpful guides and bulk up your vocabulary!