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Posted by Steve Ruhemann on June 15, 2004

A commonly used cliche refers to "one bad (or rotten) apple in a barrel".

It is currently often used to imply that an observed fault is exceptional.

I believe that this is wrong, and that the original idea is that a single bad apple can cause the rest to go rotten and should therefore be removed immediately on discovery.

I would like to know whether I am right about this or, if not, what the real meaning is.

I would also like to know the whole wording of the saying and its origin.