banana oil

Idioms & Phrases

banana oil

Nonsense, exaggerated flattery, as in I should be on television? Cut out the banana oil! The precise analogy in this idiom is not clear, unless it is to the fact that banana oil, a paint solvent and artificial flavoring agent, has no relation to the fruit other than that it smells like it. Possibly it is a variation on snake oil, a term for quack medicine that was extended to mean nonsense. [1920s]

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