Big Apple, the

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for big apple

Big Apple

noun
  1. the Big Apple informal New York City

Word Origin for Big Apple

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

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