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What Does “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree” Mean?

What Does “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree” Mean?

The common phrase, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” is a colloquial saying that describes when a child has talents or characteristics similar to their parents. 

graphic showing a tree with an apple and a father and son with the caption "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree"

It is important to know that this phrase is usually used in a positive context in common speech. However, it can be used in a negative context to point out bad traits. 

Examples Of Using “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree”

  • Marcus was very musical; He could sing, play the drums, and compose music. Both of his parents also had these characteristics. You could say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 
  • I think that Sarah is a rude person. She speaks over people and dismisses others around her. When I met her daughter, I was astonished to see her doing the same things. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 
  • Daniel was very helpful, just like his parents. Most would say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree regarding Daniel’s actions. 

Origin Of The Phrase

Thinking about the origin of this phrase, it mostly comes from real-life science. When a regular tree (such as an apple tree) produces fruit, most of it will often fall and not be eaten. Lots of fruit will simply drop down and sit at the tree’s base. 

There are a few reasons why fruit may drop to the bottom of the tree, from poor care to weather storms. This doesn’t matter to the phrase, however, as it purely describes the relationship of the “apple” (a child) to the “tree” (a parent). With this, you can tell that fruit near the base of a tree is most likely from that plant. Over time this metaphor for parental similarities caught on, and now it is incredibly popular in common speech. 

Due to the widespread popularity of this phrase, there isn’t direct evidence about where/when it came from. However, some sources have found traces of it in German Proverbs from around the year 1585. 

Although there isn’t a clear author or origin to this phrase, its early appearances should show how strong and widespread it is today. 

Related: Check out our “common expressions” section for more articles like this one!


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By Ryan Fisher

Ryan holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University and specializes in proofreading, editing, and content writing with an emphasis on business communication.

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