October 23, 2014 20:35 UTC

Words and Their Stories

We Put Things in "Apple Pie Order"

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story

Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.

Today we tell about the expression “apple pie order.” It means “in perfect order, very well organized.”

x
Nobody is sure where and when the expression “apple pie order” began. Some say that Scottish and English writers used the expression a long time ago. Others say it first was used in the northeastern American states known as New England. The housewives of New England cut their apples in even slices. Then they filled pie pans with them in an organized way, row upon row. As one writer said, the women of New England loved to have everything in its place. This perhaps explains why it generally is believed that the expression “apple pie order” began in New England.

x
​Another old expression describes the opposite condition -- wild disorder. That expression is apple of discord. It comes from ancient mythology. The myth says that all the gods and goddesses were sitting around the table to celebrate the marriage of Thetis and Peleus. One of the goddesses -- Discord -- was a troublemaker. She threw a golden apple on the table to be given as a prize to the most beautiful goddess.

It was not an easy decision to make. How could they choose among Juno, Minerva and Venus. Paris was given the task of deciding. He decided to give the golden apple to Venus. Juno and Minerva were very angry and threatened him. This, the myth says, began the long Trojan war.

x
At one time, the tomato was called a love apple. That was a mistake. This is how the mistake happened:

In the sixteenth century, Spain imported the tomato from South America after Spanish explorers had landed there. Spain then exported the tomato to Morocco. Italian traders carried it on to Italy. The Italian name for the tomato was “pomo di Moro” -- apple of the Moors.

x
When French growers imported it from Italy, they thought “di Moro” meant “d’amour” -- the French word for love. And so “pomo di Moro” became the apple of love.

People believe many things about the apple. One belief is that it has great powers of keeping people healthy. A very common expression is “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

x
Another belief is based on fact. The expression is “one rotten apple spoils the barrel.” When an apple begins to go bad, it ruins all the other apples around it in the container. The expression has come to mean that one bad person in a group can cause everyone to act bad.

You have been listening to the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.

I’m Warren Scheer.

--

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Discord as a Greek god; she was a goddess.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Vladimir from: Albania
08/06/2013 1:09 PM
After I read "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", I am writing you meanwhile I am eating an apple. You deserve our gratifying because you are learning us and giving us scientific knowledges at the same time.
I would like to tell you something interesting related to tomato in my country. In north-west of Albania tomato is named also apple of gold (molla t'arta). I think it is related with Italian language where tomato is named pomidoro and d'oro means of gold.


by: Augusto Duenas from: Brazil
08/05/2013 12:52 AM
Very nice story.


by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
08/04/2013 5:14 PM
Your programme has become' the apple of my eye'. Your narration has lit directly upon my brain and lift me up all the time. It has always been a pleasant experience to listen to your wise exhortations or stories that connects one event with another in ready sequences. And it is very hard leaving you at night and always nice to be with you through the internet. Long live internet, Long live VOA. Thank you.


by: Pichamol from: Thailand
08/04/2013 10:56 AM
Thanks for the knowledge and listening skill you give me, and the story make me interested in a pine I can eat.


by: Edgar Guariguata Gil from: Venezuela
08/04/2013 1:02 AM
Hello, here in my country when a person is between two conflict group or always is to plant discord, we say that person is the Apple of Discord, thanks.

Learn with The News

  • Tiny Police Cameras Oakland

    Video US Police Increase Use of Body Cameras

    Police officers in Washington, DC, and New York City are wearing cameras on their bodies as part of a test. The goal of the program is to reduce the use of force by officers and lower the number of criticisms from citizens. Police officers in many smaller communities are already doing so. More

  • General view of the city of Luxembourg in this picture taken on November 20, 2012.

    Audio Luxembourg Set to End Bank Secrecy

    European Union finance ministers have reached an agreement that will make it more difficult for tax avoiders to hide their money. The new legislation was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. Countries known as tax havens had blocked the bank secrecy laws. More

  • Armed officers approach Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa, Oct. 22, 2014.

    Video Deadly Attack Shocks Canada's Capital

    Also, Kurdish lawmakers in Iraq vote to send Kurdish forces to the Syrian town of Kobani. China said 43 people tested for possible Ebola infection do not have the virus. Russia and Ukraine are still working to reach an agreement on Ukraine's payments for natural Gas. More

  • FBI Director James Comey speaks about the impact of technology on law enforcement, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, at Brookings Institution in Washington.

    Audio Apple, FBI Battle Over Privacy Rules

    Apple recently said it was increasing security settings on its latest operating system for the company’s wireless devices. Apple said its new encryption rules are designed to protect users from search and seizure of their iPhones. But the changes are of concern to federal investigators. More

  • Survivors of the Ebola virus pose for a picture outside a clinic near Tubmanburg, October 15, 2014. A total of 4,493 people have died from the world's worst Ebola outbreak on record as of Oct. 12, statistics released by the World Health Organization showe

    Audio Ebola Survivors Speak Out about Their Experience

    The number of Ebola cases continues rising. But there is some hope for those who survive the disease. Recently, a conference for Ebola survivors was held for the first time in eastern Sierra Leone. The goal was to offer advice to survivors and increase understanding of the disease. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Oscar de la Renta Dressed First Ladies and Movie Stars

    Clothing designer Oscar de la Renta died Monday at his home in the American state of Connecticut. He was 82 years old. His wife said he died of problems related to cancer. Mr. de la Renta dressed American movie stars and first ladies such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton. More

  • Audio Iron Ships Clash at Sea

    The American Civil War was fought not only on land, but at sea. In 1862, Confederate and Union forces fought a new kind of navy battle in waters off Hampton Roads, Virginia. It was the first battle between iron ships. On the Confederate side was a ship called the Virginia. | The Making of a Nation More

  • Audio San Francisco Radio Stations Ban Lorde's 'Royals'

    The California baseball team, San Francisco Giants, is playing the Kansas City Royals for the 2014 Major League Baseball championship, the World Series. Two radio stations in San Francisco banned the hit song "Royals." In return, another station in Kansas City chose to play the song once every hour. More

  • A neurovascular unit on a chip being developed by Vanderbilt University researchers. (Vanderbilt University Photo/John Wikswo)

    Video Scientists Design Chips to Act Like Human Organs

    Testing new drugs for safety and effectiveness is a costly process in the United States. It also can take a lot of time. Some scientists are now designing silicon computer chips that act like human organs. The scientists think they have found a way to make the process faster and more economical. More

  • Brain Resource Infographic

    Audio Dealing with Distractions and Overreactions

    Five million American children and teenagers have Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD. ADHD makes it difficult - if not impossible - to stay with a duty until it is complete. Katherine Ellison knows the problem well. | Health Report More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs