Half-Baked Nuts and Gooseberry Fools: Food Similes and Metaphors

Bad Apple
Bad Apple (Photo credit: Silje England Garshol)

Just for fun today, here’s a list of food words (now clichés) commonly used in English, often without the speaker thinking of the food connection. Most food sayings tend to sport a long history, but that’s the stuff of another post. (And there are many fascinating books out there about word histories in general.)

Apple polisher (someone who attempts to garner favor with someone of higher rank or status)

Bad apple (just what it says, a rotten item in a group)

Baker’s dozen (thirteen of something)

Bean counter (a name given to accountants or others fixated on fine detail)

Butterball (a person or animal on the chubby side)

Butter up (see “apple polisher”)

Cakewalk (an easy task)

Chicken feed (small amount of something, like money)

Chopped liver (something insignificant)

Egghead (what some people call intellectuals)

Fishy (something suspicious, not right)

Going bananas (crazy)

Goose (silly person)

Goulash (a mess)

Happy as a clam (content person)

Nutty as a fruitcake (crazy person)

Odd duck (eccentric person)

Pea soup (often used to describe the fog of London)

Peanuts (small amount of something)

Skewer (to spear someone with harsh words)

Turkey (someone who just doesn’t measure up, loser)

Waffle (what politicians often do on important issues)

What’s your beef? (What’s your problem?)

See Jay Jacob’s The Eaten Word: The Language of Food, the Food in Our Language (1995) for more.

© 2009 C. Bertelsen

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