July 02, 2015 09:49 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

  • President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, July 1, 2015.

    Audio U.S. and Cuba to Reopen Embassies

    Sec. of State John Kerry will travel to Havana to raise the U.S. flag over the first American embassy there in 50 years. Also in the news, Islamic State group claims attacks in Egypt’s Sinai; Liberian president calls new Ebola case “disturbing”; U.S. advances to Women's World Cup final. More

  • Audio Clash Reported at Border of Vietnam, Cambodia

    Cambodian and Vietnamese social media have been reporting on a clash along the border between the two countries. The fighting happened Sunday. Hundreds of Cambodians and Vietnamese were involved. At least 10 people were reported injured. More

  • A doctor points to an x-ray showing a pair of lungs infected with TB (tuberculosis) in Ladbroke Grove in London, England, Jan. 27, 2014.

    Audio Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Less Likely to Spread

    The number of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis cases is rising. Multi-drug-resistant TB results from a bacterium – a group of small living things that can cause disease. The bacterium is hard to kill because it has become resistant to two or more common antibiotics. More

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry - flanked by National Security Council Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf States Robert Malley, U.S. Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, and Eu

    Audio Iran Nuclear Talks Deadline Extended

    Also Tuesday, leaders of the US and Brazil promised to reduce carbon emissions and increase renewable energy use; China made a simiilar announcement; and another politician entered the US presidential race. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he will seek the Republican Party nomination. More

  • Audio Is There a ‘Skills Gap’ in US Job Market?

    8.7 million Americans are unemployed and 6.7 million are doing part-time work. But, many jobs remain vacant. Employers say many of those jobs are vacant because they cannot find people with the right skills to do the work. Some experts look at why that is the case and what to do about it. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Sweet Potatoes as Medicine

    Researchers have helped to reduce a major health problem with a simple food – the orange sweet potato. A program created to help farmers grow the crop has unexpected and healthy results. Some reports say this is the first time an agricultural program has had a major effect on health. More

  • Video Robots Ready to Work in Restaurants

    For many years, machines have been doing work that people once did, including some difficult jobs. Search and rescue operations employ high technology robots. But there is another area that may soon take jobs traditionally held by human beings: the restaurant industry. More

  • Audio More American Fathers Stay Home to Raise Kids

    More and more fathers in the United States are trading in the traditional role of breadwinner -- the person earning money -- for the role of stay-at-home dad. Meet two fathers who have been on this road for the past decade. You can also learn some great words such as "clique" and "masculinity." More

  • Audio Don't Be Caught With Your Pants Down

    Are you too big for your boots? Do you often fly by the seat of your pants? Learn what these clothing expressions mean and so many others. You may be excited to get started but keep your shirt on! Be patient. All you have to do is click on this episode of Words and Their Stories. More

  • Video Everyday Grammar: Words Come and Go in English

    Part of the reason that English has grown as a world language is that it adjusts easily to change. Why do some words and phrases stay the same while others change? VOA guest editor David Sullivan shares his ideas on the changes he has seen in today's English. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs