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Apples and oranges...

Posted by Abe on January 29, 2004

In Reply to: Apples and oranges... posted by ESC on January 29, 2004

: : : : : :
: : : : : : Hi, guys. I'm writing this post from Japan.

: : : : : : I've got a question about the phrase
: : : : : : "apples and oranges" I run across that phrase
: : : : : : very often, but I don't get the meaning.

: : : : : : Could anybody help me with this expression?
: : : : : : when, and why people say like that as an answer to other people's saying. and what does that mean?

: : : : : The whole phrase is: "You can't compare apples and oranges." Or: "You're trying to compare apples and oranges."

: : : : : I can't think of a good example right now. But I'm sure one of the other Phrase Folk will have one.

: : : : : Fruit is fruit. Apples and oranges are fruit, but an apple is not an orange. "A" may equal "C", "B" may equal "C" but "A" does not equal "B". An illogical conclusion drawn from similar logical facts...

: : : Wait a minute, now. Mathematically, if A = C and B = C, then A = B.

: : : You can't bring mathematical equations into a discussion of fruit. Why, that would be like comparing apples to oranges!

: : Exactly! But not quite six of one and a half dozen of the other.

: OK. I'm going to give it a whirl.

: There are different standards of excellence for an apple and for an orange. An apple should be crisp, tart and tasty. An orange should be sweet and juicy. You can't try to squeeze an apple and say it isn't as good as an orange when you don't get much juice.

: An apple is an apple with apple qualities and an orange is an orange with orange qualities.

: I think that's what it means. Illustrating the point that most people don't know what the phrase means. They just use it to dismiss comparisons they don't agree with.

I agree that "They just use it to dismiss comparisons they don't agree with."

That said (and this is a BTW ) I disagree with the statement above above that mathematics could not be applied to fruit e.g. oranges are within the set of all fruit, apples are within the set of all fruit but the sets of apples and oranges do not overlap.