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Life's a peach

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 06, 2008 at 16:43

In Reply to: Life's a peach posted by Jane Streather on October 04, 2008 at 12:46:

: What is the meaning of 'life's a peach'?

I think you're safe in assuming that whoever said that means "life is good, really good." For three centuries English-speakers have been using "peach" and "peachy" to describe things that they considered really good, desirable and attractive things, including attractive young ladies. "She's a real peach!" It has also been used to mean something exceptional of its kind, as when a prize-fighter lands "a peach of a blow."

There are a few variations on this. According to the OED, the phrase "peaches and cream," used to describe life or some desirable and pleasant state of affairs, or the lovely complexion of a fair maiden, is an American usage. In the last fifty years or so Americans (and possibly Brits) have been asnwering the question, "How are things going?" with the response, "Peachy keen," which in some cases has a sarcastic innuendo.

Peaches are not the only fruit to be associated with the good life. Sometimes you will hear life compared to a bowl of cherries, often as "(my) life's NOT a bowl of cherries." I don't need to mention (but will anyway), that an individual, male or female, can be "the apple of (someone's) eye."

Although usually thought of as a vegetable, the tomato is horticulturally a fruit, and it, too, can be used metaphorically to represent something exceptional. In one of the contests to represent New Jersey in the Miss America contest, the winner of the Miss New Jersey crown was sued by the father of the runner-up, on the grounds that the winner was actually a carpet-bagger from Pennsylvania, while his daugher, as he put it, was "a real Jersey tomato." Actually, many people before him have described some luscious girl as "a real tomato."