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rotten apple

Slang definitions & phrases for rotten apple

rotten apple

noun phrase

A corrupt or unfit person who may corrupt others: But a certain number of rotten apples, predisposed to brutality, make it through psychological testing that can be woefully inadequate

[1940s+; fr the saying ''one rotten apple can spoil a barrel''; stated in a 1528 source as ''For one rotten apple lytell and lytell putrifieth an whole heape'']

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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Examples from the Web for rotten apple
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We should no more eat bad grain than a rotten apple, or putrefying meat.

    Health on the Farm H. F. Harris
  • We opened a barrel of Spies last week, and I found only one rotten apple.

    In Pastures Green Peter McArthur
  • But he was pretty well all alone; there's got to be a rotten apple in the best-picked barrel and these boys were smart.

    The Man Who Played to Lose Laurence Mark Janifer
  • By way of instance, the sniff of a rotten apple will set a man off as on seven-league boots to the valleys of his childhood.

    Journeys to Bagdad Charles S. Brooks
  • “Ratty is like a rotten apple in the middle of the barrel,” thought Frances.

    Frances of the Ranges Amy Bell Marlowe
  • Alick resented this remark, and the resentment was in the form of a rotten apple which struck the offender full in the mouth.

    The Morning Glory Club George A. Kyle
  • I'm going to give this rotten apple to one of the elephants and see what a funny face he makes when he chews it!

    Nero, the Circus Lion Richard Barnum
  • I don't know wherre you'rre going or what you'rre going to do and I don't carre a rotten apple.

  • They say she has a face like a cankered oak gall or a rotten apple lying cracked on the ground among the wasps.

    Grisly Grisell Charlotte M. Yonge
Idioms and Phrases with rotten apple

rotten apple

A bad individual among many good ones, especially one that spoils the group. For example, The roommates are having problems with Edith—she's the one rotten apple of the bunch. This expression is a shortening of the proverb a rotten apple spoils the barrel, coming from a 14th-century Latin proverb translated as “The rotten apple injures its neighbors.” The allusion in this idiom is to the spread of mold or other diseases from one apple to the rest. In English the first recorded use was in Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack (1736).
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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