apples and oranges

Idioms & Phrases

apples and oranges

Unlike objects or persons, as in Assessing the problems of the neighborhood grocery by examining a giant supermarket is comparing apples and oranges. This metaphor for dissimilarity began as apples and oysters, which appeared in John Ray's proverb collection of 1670. It is nearly always accompanied by a warning that one cannot compare such different categories.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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