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Big Apple, the

noun, Informal.
New York City.
Origin of Big Apple, the
1925-30; promulgated as a tourist slogan during the 1970s; perhaps reuse of earlier “the Apple” (New York City in jazz musicians' argot) with Big as in big cheese, big time, etc. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for big apple
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Swiftly she sped to the big apple tree where her trystings were held with Rufus, her playmate and lover.

    Idle Hour Stories Eugenia Dunlap Potts
  • You shall have an apple for your breakfast—a large, big apple.

    Pencil Sketches Eliza Leslie
  • So back they went, stopping on the way to look at a big apple tree, to see if there were any ripe apples on it.

    Uncle Wiggily's Adventures Howard R. Garis
  • I was a capital marksman, and the big apple, only two yards distant, turned its russet cheek fairly towards me.

    The Story of a Bad Boy Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  • She could not go indoors, so she went down to the big apple tree that had a seat all around the trunk.

    A Little Girl in Old Boston Amanda Millie Douglas
British Dictionary definitions for big apple

Big Apple

(informal) the Big Apple, New York City
Word Origin
C20: probably from US jazzmen's earlier use to mean any big, esp northern, city; of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Contemporary definitions for big apple

New York City

Word Origin

may have been coined by Edward S. Martin in The Wayfarer in New York (1909), based on 'apple' as a lucrative job or engagement for jazz musicians

Usage Note



a line dance done in southern US

Word Origin

originated in Big Apple Night Clubin South Carolina's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin and History for big apple

Big Apple

"New York," 1909 (but popularized by 1970s tourism promotion campaign), apparently from jazz musicians' use of apple for any city, especially a Northern one.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for big apple

Big Apple, the

noun phrase

  1. New York City •Popularized in the 1970s as a nickname: New York is the Big Apple/ young musicians storming into the Apple (1909+)
  2. A jitterbug dance of the mid1930s

[apparently fr jazz musicians' term apple for a city, esp a city in the North; the dance may be so called from a Harlem club of the same name]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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