The Internet’s Contravolution of a Popular Idiom

The idiom “Apples to Oranges” is a phrase I like because it is such a helpful and efficient way of saying (to most English speakers) a fairly complex idea. It expresses the idea that two things are different enough so that comparison between the two is somewhat ridiculous.

But what about a situation, in arguments or discussions, where “Apples and Oranges” doesn’t work to capture the situation adequately? What if (for example) the two items are significantly disparate and different that comparing them is significantly more wrong-minded than comparing Oranges and Apples? Both of them are fruit, after all. And they’re both round and … so forth.

What idiom do people use in such a situation? I’m glad you asked. For as I did a Google search, I learned that people have (many, many times in internet history) wanted to express this but they’ve done it in different ways.

Very different ways.

For example …

ApplesandOranges1A. Some writers use a creative way to say the items in question are okay to compare (and the compared items really are just apples):

[For the record – all of these lists include only real examples I found on the internet and I have kept the italics untouched. Also the spelling and punctuation]

— It’s not apples and oranges, its granny smith vs golden delicious.

— It’s not apples and oranges; it’s two different kinds of apples.

— … were not apples and oranges, but more like apples and half apples.

— it’s not apples and oranges. McIntosh and Granny Smith might be more apt.

— It’s not apples and oranges, it’s apples and exploding apples

— Success and failure, as far as hedge funds were concerned, were not apples and oranges, but perhaps, first-rate apples and second-rate apples.

ApplesandOranges2— It’s not apples and oranges, it’s 300 green apples vs 1 or 2 red ones.

— Like I’ve said, it’s not apples and oranges – it’s just a lot a little tiny apples – or applesauce – but it’s still apples.

— For in fact it’s not apples and oranges, it’s apples all the way down.

But most of them need a way to indicate comparison of the objects is more unwise than comparing Apples and Oranges. For example ….

ApplesandOranges3

B. Some of them choose foods that are more disparate than Apples and Oranges:

— That’s not apples and oranges. Its Apples and Lemons.

— It’s not apples and oranges…its more like apples and bacon

— It’s not apples and oranges, its apples and turnips

That’s not apples and oranges, that’s apples and Tang.

— But when heterogeneity becomes too large, you might end up combining not apples and oranges but apples and onions.

— Ironic it may be, but this is not Apples and Oranges, it’s Apples and Meat in some sort of funny way.

— Our personality contrast is not apples and oranges – it’s apples and three-month-old-leftover-tuna-casserole.

— When we look more closely at The Body’s Way, strength and flexibility are most definitely not apples and oranges, but rather … um … a delicious layered apple and orange parfait.

— That’s not apples and oranges, it’s apples and BBQ ribs or something.

(It’s the ‘or something’ that makes this my favorite of this group).

ApplesandOranges4

C. Others feel like comparing food to food is still too similar to compare to what’s happening in the debate at hand.

— Its not apples and oranges, its apples and cars.

— ‘It’s not apples and oranges; it’s apples and bricks

— It’s not apples and oranges its apples and jackhammers.

Thats not apples and oranges, thats apples and astroids in another solar system.

— WOW thats not apples and oranges thats apples and the the space shuttle!

That’s not apples and oranges. That’s apples and prostitutes.

— You can’t compare puppies to babies. That’s not apples and oranges, that’s apples and babies.

That’s not apples and oranges; that’s apples and decorative bars of soap.

That’s not apples and oranges. That’s apples and elephants, maybe even apples and

aircraft carriers.

— it’s not apples and oranges, it’s apples and friggin hand-grenades.

— That’s not apples and oranges. That’s apples and monkeys. Not even the same species*

— That’s not apples and oranges, its apples and flying space monkeys.

For brevity sake, I’ll just say that other items that writers thought were more different from apples than oranges include ..

(That’s not apples and oranges – that’s apples and ….)

Chartreuse, doorbells, row boats, panzer tanks, telephones, pear trees, porcupines, moon rocks, BMWs, Rocks, Sewing Machines, hex bolts, turtles, carburetors, screw-drivers, playing a piano, cement, ICBMs, ammo, rocket ships, light bulbs, tablecloths, orangutangs, and lugnuts.

 

D. But for some, comparing apples to any object was too coherent. They chose more esoteric paths:

— That’s not apples and oranges – that’s apples and playing a piano.

— It’s not apples and oranges. It’s apples and black holes.

… not apples and oranges but apples and ideas about apples.

— HTML version and CSS version are separate and unrelated things: not “apples and oranges” but “apples and green”.

— Stop. You’re comparing apples and unicorns. Not apples and oranges; oranges exist in reality.

— That’s not apples and oranges; it’s apples and non-Newtonian physics.

— It’s not apples and oranges: it’s apples and buses, where one party can’t begin to imagine buses.

That’s not apples and oranges, that’s institutionalized segregation/wage slavery and oranges.

— They are not apples and oranges. They are apples and the French Revolution.

E. I feel here I must include the set of those whose author didn’t want either apples or oranges in the second half of the phrase.

— That’s not apples and oranges; it’s cars and coconuts

— That’s not apples and oranges. It’s cupcakes and anvils.

— It’s not apples and oranges. It’s magnolias and six-shooters.

— It’s not apples and oranges — it’s covered wagons and starships

— Seriously though…it’s not apples and oranges. It’s like saying you can’t compare a sports car and communter car.

— … is comparing not apples and oranges, but bananas to lawn chairs.

— That’s not apples and oranges, its a spec of dust and the entire planet.

— It’s not apples and oranges, it’s watermelons and glockenspiels.

— it’s not apples and oranges. it’s a human body with a dog head. In proportion. In proportion!**

F. And then there are some that had appeared to have lost the path altogether. Like they started out in the right mindset with the apples and oranges idiom, but something went really wrong.

— Its not apples and oranges, its whether or not a country is being held to reparations.

— It’s not apples and oranges, its religous freedom.

That’s not apples and oranges, that’s chicken and egg. [This one kind of warps my brain a little bit]

— Its not apples and oranges, its common **** sense.

— Its not Apples and Oranges, Its truth and lies.

— Space and time were not apples and oranges, but mates—joined, homologous, inseparable.

G. And here are category-defying entries that I threw in, just for the fun of it.

— It’s not apples and oranges. it’s apples and carrots. the only things that are similar are batman, video game and arkham universe.

— This is a book about fruit, but not apples and oranges. The other fruit. This is a book about sex, but not just sex. Sex is never alone.

— Kanye interrupted an acceptance speech. Chris beat on his girlfriend. That’s not apples and oranges. That’s apples and domestic battery

— It’s not apples and oranges, it’s where Magic Hat stole the name of that beer. Period.

— It’s not apples and oranges. It’s more like bananas and sucking out the inside of an orange with a shop vac.

And finally, from a Superman Vs Goku discussion:

— It’s not apples and oranges. It’s applying a principle to a feat and then applying the same principle to other feats

In any case – I think it’s clear – humanity can get very random when it wants to.

* Yes, for the record, in case you weren’t aware of it – apples and monkey are a different species.

** Second ‘In proportion’ added.

Advertisements