Which is better, sci-fi blockbusters or Hallmark Christmas movies? But that’s like comparing apples to oranges! Hold on, what on earth does fruit have to do with this conundrum? Well, I’m here to peel back the layers of this popular idiom.
The Meaning of Comparing Apples to Oranges
When you’re comparing apples to oranges, you’re comparing two things that are fundamentally different and, therefore, shouldn’t be compared. It’s a light-hearted way to say that it’s impossible, or at least unfair, to compare two items or situations because they’re simply not alike.
So, while you can technically hold an apple and an orange side by side, comparing them on the same scale is fruitless!
It’s like books, for example. (Yes, it’s my go-to source of examples, I’m an author!) If someone asked me which book is better— “It” by Stephen King or “Stardust” by Neil Gaiman. There’s no simple answer to that because those two books are incomparable; they’re not even in the same genre and are geared toward different age groups.
Is Comparing Apples to Oranges an Idiom?
Absolutely! The phrase comparing apples to oranges is definitely an idiom. The apple and the orange aren’t just fruits here—they represent any two entities that are so distinct they defy direct comparison.
Origin and Etymology of Comparing Apples to Oranges
Like many idioms, the exact origin of comparing apples to oranges is hard to pin down. But an earlier version of the saying was used by, you guessed it, Shakespeare in “The Taming of the Shrew,” where he said, “As much as an apple doth an oyster, and all one.”
Later, in the late 1600s, John Ray used the same sentiment in a collection of proverbs. I’m not sure where the switch to using oranges and apples came into play, but here we are. Fun fact: The British actually say, “comparing apples to pears.”
Comparing Apples to Oranges Synonyms
Diversify your fruit basket of idioms with these synonyms that are pretty close in meaning to apples and oranges.
- Comparing chalk to cheese
- Comparing night and day
- Like oil and water
- Like cats and dogs
- Comparing apples and pears (British equivalent)
Comparing Apples to Oranges Sentence Examples
Let’s squeeze this idiom into your daily language with these ten examples of how you can use it in a sentence.
- Arguing about whether soccer or basketball is better is like comparing apples to oranges.
- Comparing a novel to a film adaptation is like comparing apples to oranges—they’re just too different.
- That’s like comparing apples to oranges—you can’t equate a musician’s talent with a painter’s.
- Trying to compare a poet’s work to a scientist’s is like comparing apples to oranges.
- Comparing her singing to his dancing is like comparing apples to oranges.
- Comparing my current job to my previous one is like comparing apples to oranges; they’re in entirely different fields.
- You’re comparing apples to oranges when you try to pick the best between Mexican food and Italian food.
- Your comparison of a machine gun to a machete is like comparing apples to oranges.
- Comparing our current economic situation to that of the 1920s is like comparing apples to oranges.
- It’s like comparing apples to oranges—our startup can’t be compared to a multinational corporation.
English Is a Fruit Salad of Words
And there you have it! Comparing apples to oranges is a juicy idiom to remind us that not all things are meant to be compared on the same scale. So, the next time someone tries to compare a vintage vinyl to a modern MP3, remember, it’s just like comparing apples to oranges!