Lesson #103: ‘An apple a day …’ An English Idiom and its Origin


I was going through some of my handwritten notes on the origin of the English proverb, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’

✍️ This is a common saying that stresses the importance of eating fruit regularly, especially apples.

It seems that the saying originated from Pembrokeshire, a region known for its high-quality apples.

📜 Although we have no idea how long this phrase has been circulating in our language, it is likely to be centuries-old!

And since the word ‘apple’ had once meant ‘fruit’ (especially in the King James Version of the Bible, 1611), we are keeping in the literal spirit of the saying when we quote it to encourage each other to eat fresh fruit and stay healthy!

What is your favourite fruit?

🧐 How would you describe its look, taste, texture?

Some adjectives you could use include the following:

  • sweet: having a pleasant taste like sugar or honey.
  • tangy: having a sharp, slightly sour flavour.
  • sour: having a sharp, acidic taste.
  • refreshing: giving a feeling of coolness and vitality; pleasantly invigorating.
  • savorous or savoursome: having a rich, enjoyable taste or flavour.
  • satisfying: providing fulfilment or contentment, often related to food or experiences.
  • comforting: providing a feeling of reassurance, warmth, or relaxation, often associated with familiarity or pleasant memories.

Apples are probably my own favourite, but I also like bananas. This is an example of how I would respond to the questions posed: I could say that I like bananas for their taste – sweet without being sugary – and how convenient they can be as a bedtime snack. I appreciate that they have a protective skin and can be stored in a lunch box or bag for later use.

👉 Today, try to describe in your own words a preference you may have for one thing over another (and it doesn’t have to be about food!)

by J. E. Gibbons

English language tutor and researcher at 'Learn English Through Literature' (2024)