If you've ever heard someone say, 'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree,' you might have wondered what they were talking about. In this article, you'll learn the meaning behind this popular idiom, its origins, and how to use it in a sentence.
If you just want the short version, here it is:
This sentence is an idiom, which means it's metaphorical. There's no use trying to interpret the words literally; they won't make sense in the context. All idioms are like that, so let's find out what this one means.
The saying can have either positive or negative connotations. Here's an example of each:
After meeting Jake's father, it became clear why Jake struggles with anger management; the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Emily's mom is an accomplished pianist, and now Emily is showing incredible talent in playing the piano as well. It seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
You might also see/hear the variant 'the apple never falls far from the tree.'
There isn't much information about the origins of this idiom except for the fact it was credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American lecturer, poet, and essayist, who first said it in 1839, even though he says it was inspired by a German proverb that goes:
As men say, the apple never falls far from the stem.
However, a little bit of research shows that the expression was around long before then, at least in other languages. It is found in Welsch in the 1803 A Dictionary of the Welsh Language, Explained in English:
Ni fell ddygwydd afal o afall
There are earlier notations of the quote in Turkish, Danish, French, and many more, so tracing the true origin could prove difficult. The true origins of idioms can be challenging to trace definitively because they often develop organically over time, and their precise beginnings are frequently lost in the historical record.
While I can't pinpoint the exact origin of this specific idiom, the concept it represents is likely ancient and cross-cultural. Many cultures have proverbs or expressions that convey the notion that children often share characteristics with their parents.
Now that we've covered the meaning of this idiom and its origins, here are some example sentences that use it.
It seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree as he has had the same success in his career as his parents.
Growing up with a love for literature, it's no surprise that her daughter is an aspiring novelist—the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
With her mother being a talented artist, it's clear the apple doesn't fall far from the tree; she has a remarkable talent for painting.
His father was known for his generosity, and now, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree as he actively participates in charitable work.
Having parents who are both scientists, she is pursuing a degree in biochemistry. I guess it's true when they say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
The coach's dedication to training is evident in his son's performance on the field—the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
With a family history of entrepreneurship, it's no wonder she started her own successful business. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Her father was a diplomat known for his eloquence, and it's clear the apple doesn't fall far from the tree—she is an articulate speaker.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree: despite the family's struggles, the children have inherited a strong work ethic and resilience.
Seeing how caring and compassionate her parents are, it's evident that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree—she is involved in various charitable causes.
There are plenty of other ways to say that parents and their children are usually alike. They're great to use if you're looking for alternative phrases.
That concludes this article about this popular idiom. To summarize, when someone says the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, they mean there are often similarities between parents and their offspring.
Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!
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