Tomayto, tomahto and potayto, potahto

Tomayto, tomahto and potayto, potahto are two variations of an idiom. We will examine the meaning of the idiom variations tomayto, tomahto and potayto, potahto, where they came from, and some examples of their idiomatic usage in sentences.

Tomayto, tomahto and potayto, potahto are two phrases that mean the difference between two things is trivial. The terms tomayto, tomahto and potayto, potahto may be used dismissively, for instance, when the speaker does not believe someone has a valid point or does not acknowledge the importance of his belief. The expressions tomayto, tomahto and potayto, potahto are sometimes used to mean that two people’s differences are so trivial that it will be easy to come to a consensus. The idioms tomayto, tomahto and potayto, potahto are derived from the George and Ira Gershwin song, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, written for the American film, Shall We Dance, released in 1937: You like potato and I like potahto / You like tomato and I like tomahto / Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto / Let’s call the whole thing off.” In the song, the only difference between these words is their pronunciation.

Examples

Like every community, Greenville has its own unique characteristics. Some might call them quirks, but tomayto, tomahto. (The Greenville News)

No, actually, Harington clarified that he meant ‘popped the question,’ not ‘blew my load,’ but tomayto tomahto. (Elle Magazine)

He’s got a crush on a senior (Aaron Samuels, President Obama, potayto, potahto). (Cosmopolitan Magazine)

Whereupon she unleashes a veritable ’78-to-’84 pantheon of late disco, post-disco, synth-funk, electro-boogie, potayto, potahto. (The Village Voice)

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