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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for big apple
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • “Chucked a big apple at me first,” cried the boy in an ill-used tone.

    Syd Belton George Manville Fenn
  • You shall have an apple for your breakfast—a large, big apple.

    Pencil Sketches Eliza Leslie
  • The beautiful maiden had never in her life seen such a big apple, and was very much astonished.

  • 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
  • Madge had taken the twins and was seated with them under a big apple tree in the back yard.

    Madge Morton's Trust Amy D. V. Chalmers
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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