apples and oranges

Unlike objects or persons, as in Assessing the problems of the neighborhood grocery by examining a giant supermarket is comparing apples and oranges. This metaphor for dissimilarity began as apples and oysters, which appeared in John Ray's proverb collection of 1670. It is nearly always accompanied by a warning that one cannot compare such different categories.

Nearby words

  1. applecart,
  2. appledrain,
  3. applejack,
  4. appleknocker,
  5. apples,
  6. apples and pears,
  7. apples of the hesperides,
  8. applesauce,
  9. appleseed,
  10. appleseed, johnny

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