English

Comparing apples and oranges

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The idiom comparing apples and oranges has its roots in another idiom, popular during Shakespeare’s time. The idiom comparing apples and oranges means that one is trying to draw similarities between two things that are not similar. Though one may argue that apples and oranges are both fruit, they do not look, taste, feel, or smell the same. The expression comparing apples and oranges came into use in the 1800s, though the popularity of the term increased during the latter half of the twentieth century. The idiom has its roots in an older phrase, comparing apples and oysters, which may be found in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew: “As much as an apple doth an oyster, and all one.” The phrase is rendered in other languages such as German, Spanish, and Swedish as comparing apples and pears. The idiom comparing apples and oranges is sometimes seen as comparing apples to oranges. Related phrases are compare apples and oranges, compares apples and oranges, compared apples and oranges.

Examples

Now, you might be thinking, “You’re comparing apples and oranges!” (The Federalist)

But Arthur Schwartz, who represents the block associations and is himself a 12th Street resident, told the Post that the agencies and advocates are comparing apples and oranges. (The New York Post)

If you’re using a score to monitor your credit, it’s important to use the same kind from the same bureau — otherwise you’re comparing apples and oranges, as we say in English. (The Los Angeles Times)

Wingert said that while it is true that the same power bank at the Chehalis Substation was involved in both outages, it would be similar to comparing apples and oranges. (The Centralia Chronicle)

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