polish the apple


Try to win favor through flattery, as in It may help your standing with the boss if you polish the apple. This expression gave rise to the phrase apple polishing. The idiom alludes to the practice of schoolchildren bringing their teacher the gift of a bright, shiny apple. [c. 1920]

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