What is the meaning of the expression "that's apples and oranges."?

A male colleague of mine at work is always using the expression "that's apples and oranges," or "you're comparing apples and oranges." This guy is an engineer and has a reputation as being a logical thinker. I don't have the nerve to ask him what this expression means. Can someone please explain it to me.

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  • vmmhg
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    It means that the two, or more, items that are being considered are not equal in some way. Although they are of the same type or variety, they are not the same in scope or features. Using the car as an example, when you say "why are these two same models and makes so different in price?" Well if one is a base model and the other is a fully loaded model, then you could use the term apples to oranges.

    In science and technology, the differences can be very subtle and not too noticeable. Ask him what some of the issues are when he uses that phrase. "so whats so different?". Some times the differences are not an issue and you can argue the case anyway. Don't let anyone get away with that phrase too often. Some times people use it as a way to avoid a discussion in their favor. Especially if they don't know and they know that you don't either.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The saying means they are two different things; that they can't be used as comparables. Think of two things in the same group you are very familiar with. Like apples and oranges are both fruit but yet they are different. I can give you an example I'm familiar with, I could say let's go get some caffeine. You could say, I'll buy what kind of coffee do you want?" And I'd say "no, not that kind of caffiene, I only drink green tea. Coffee and Green Tea are like apples and oranges. Although they both have caffiene Coffee has immediate hit and his harder on the system. Green tea helps prevent cancer and has a slow release into the system." Does that example help? It's two items that are inappropriate to compare to each other in certain situations. Your colleague knows something deeper about a subgroup. You may get it right away. If you don't when he says it again, ask him, "How so?" and he sounds like the type of person who likes to share his intelligence. Good luck. And, by the way I love coffee especially lattes!

  • lawver
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Apples And Oranges

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

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    RE:

    What is the meaning of the expression "that's apples and oranges."?

    A male colleague of mine at work is always using the expression "that's apples and oranges," or "you're comparing apples and oranges." This guy is an engineer and has a reputation as being a logical thinker. I don't have the nerve to ask him what this expression...

    Source(s): meaning expression quot 39 apples oranges quot: https://shortly.im/4ShYg
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  • 1 decade ago

    Comparing apples and oranges means that you are trying to compare two things that are totally different to each other - and therefore there is no logic or benefit in the comparison.

    An example could be like trying to compare a Ferrari with a Ford - they are both cars but comparing them is nonsensical because they are as alike as "apples and oranges" that is, not at all.

  • 4 years ago

    People are often a bit confused about this expression. First, the expression itself is NOT from Hebrew as you may sometimes be told (there is no mention of an "apple" in the Hebrew expression). It is simply an Old English expression for the pupil (attested from the 9th century). BUT the way we now use the expression -- to refer to someone or something very PRECIOUS to us -- IS the result of its appearance in English Bible translations. Specifically, four verses in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 17:8; Proverbs 7:2; Zechariah 2:8) refer to regarding or protecting someone else as one would protect the pupil of one's own eye... except that older English Bible translations used the common Old English expression "apple of my eye" to translate these verses. But at the same time these translations were appearing (mainly in the 16th century), English expression for the body part started to fall out of use, replaced by "pupil" (a Latin word with its own interesting history). As a result, the expression itself began to be thought of as a "biblical expression", and began to be used as if it meant "something precious" (an idea that fit the teaching of those biblical verses), the usage we now know. ---------------------------- As for the Hebrew -- the popular claim, first suggested by a medieval Jewish commentator, that the Hebrew expression being translated literally mean "little man of the eye" is understandable (since the word "ishon" looks a lot like Hebrew "ish" meaning "man") but doubtful. Elsewhere the word simply refers to something that is very dark. Thus the literal meaning is simply "dark part of the eye". (Some Hebrew grammars list the ending -on as a diminutive form, but the ONLY evidence they provide for such a form is this word itself! I call that a circular argument.) On the other hand, the Latin pupil DOES have a meaning like this. The word is from Latin for "doll", the notion being that when you look in someone else's eye you see a reflection of yourself that looks like a very small person or doll.

  • JZD
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    It simply means you are not comparing like with like, and thereby the comparison (or differences) you have pointed out are invalid.

    Funnily enough, we have the same saying in the UK, but it's comparing "apples and pears" (that may sound corny, but it's true - it also has nothing to do with the cockney rhyming slang for stairs)

    Source(s): I'm a lawyer, not that it helps me answer your question....
  • Debra
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

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    Originally meaning the central aperture (pupil) of the eye. Figuratively it is something, or more usually someone, cherished above others. Personally, I used to think it was an analogy to picking out the nicest looking apple that caught your eye.

  • 1 decade ago

    Usually it means you are comparing two things that really are totally different and shouldn't even be compared to one another.

  • 1 decade ago

    two unrelated topics that are put togetht that can't be spoken of in the same breath.

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