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sour grapes

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plural noun
  1. pretended disdain for something one does not or cannot have: She said that she and her husband didn't want to join the club anyway, but it was clearly sour grapes.

Origin of sour grapes

First recorded in 1750–60; in allusion to Aesop's fable concerning the fox who, in an effort to save face, dismissed as sour those grapes he could not reach
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sour grapes

Historical Examples

  • He tried the sour-grapes idea: perhaps Injun hadn't learned anything that amounted to anything, after all.

    Injun and Whitey to the Rescue

    William S. Hart


British Dictionary definitions for sour grapes

sour grapes

noun
  1. (functioning as singular) the attitude of affecting to despise something because one cannot or does not have it oneself

Word Origin

from a fable by Aesop
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

Idioms and Phrases with sour grapes

sour grapes

Disparaging what one cannot obtain, as in The losers' scorn for the award is pure sour grapes. This expression alludes to the Greek writer Aesop's famous fable about a fox that cannot reach some grapes on a high vine and announces that they are sour. In English the fable was first recorded in William Caxton's 1484 translation, “The fox said these raisins be sour.”

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.