Green’s Dictionary of Slang

apple n.1

1. a person.

[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Color of Murder’ Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective Dec. 🌐 I’m trying to save up a retirement fund before some sharp apple prints my name on a bullet.
[US]M. Spillane Long Wait (1954) 80: He got medals in the army fer being a rough apple.
[UK]H.E. Bates Oh! To be in England (1985) 337: Well, how’s Charley boy? And how’s my little apple?
[US]N.Y. Times 12 Feb. n.p.: Of this group of 12 maybe there were 2 bad apples, but not John — John is definitely good [R].
[UK]Observer 18 July 33: Turner’s judgement stands out, because he doesn’t pick a few bad apples but condemns the whole barrel.

2. a foolish person, a ‘sucker’.

[US]S.J. Perelman in Marschall That Old Gang o’ Mine (1984) 43: ‘I can’t say,’ replied the poor apple.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks 3/1: Apple, a person engaged in a legitimate occupation.
[US]J.G. Rothenberg ‘Peanuts! The Pickle Dealers’ in AS XVI:3 Oct. 190: To feel like an apple. To feel embarrassed.
[US]A. Zugsmith Beat Generation 57: These married apples, they want you to punish them for enjoying it.
[US]M. Braly It’s Cold Out There 38: Jesus, would you shake the apples. They’d think they were up against King Kong.
[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 197: apple, n. – a derisive name; anything bad or not highly regarded; a dimwit, dupe, or goose.

3. (US) in uses based on the shape.

(a) a ball.

[US]A. Baer Two & Three 23 Apr. [synd. col.] Looks like Tarzan Ruth is out to hang up a new mileage record for that stitched apple. he sure spanks that old cocoanut.
[US]N.Y. Tribune 29 Nov. 14/6: Bleacher fans have already tagged him as one who [...] ‘can sock that old apple to a fare-ye-well’.
[US]M. Bodenheim Sixty Seconds 48: There wasn’t any bigness [...] to grabbing the apple and winging it to a baseman’s mitt.
[US] Weseen Dict. Amer. Sl. 203: apple, a baseball.
[US]R. Blount Jr About Three Bricks Shy of a Load 55: ‘Hold on to that egg, guv’nor,’ Rooster said in the direction of a rookie receiver. ‘’Cause you can’t score without that apple’.

(b) the head.

[US]T. Wolfe Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1969) 382: The entire Democratic party of California will get turned on, zonked out of their apples.

4. (Aus./US Und., also big apple, top apple) an important person.

Ranche & Range (N. Yakima, WA) 17 Aug. 3/1: The county buyer is mighty ‘small potatoes.’ The city buyer [...] is the big apple.
[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 1: She’s [...] their top apple, th’ ’ole blessed cake-walk, ’n’ straight ez er church.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 19/1: Apple. A big shot; a personage of real or pretended distinction in the underworld. ‘Mike’s got to be an apple In the alky (alcohol) racket now.’ [Ibid.] Big apple. A big shot; one who has, or creates the illusion of having, influence, money, etc.
[US] ‘Ed Lacy’ Best that Ever Did It (1957) 153: Franzino was there, along with two big apples from the Police Department.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 76: For once I want to nail down a big boy, a top apple.
[US]H. Ellison Web of the City (1983) 34: ‘Where’s the apple?’ Rusty asked, meaning Candle.

5. (US black) the vagina [note 17C apple, a woman and/or her virginity (see Williams I 28–9), although note that apples n. (1) orig. meant breasts; an apple is also something to eat v. (4)].

[[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 46: I’ll expose every part / Of my brown apple cart, / Ad stifle , quite stifle, the boy in its charms .
implied in punch the apple
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 228: apple […] 3. Vagina.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 409: Q. Who had the first computers? A. Adam and Eve. She had an Apple and he had a Wang (schoolyard humor, New York City, 1984).

6. in uses based on the colour green.

(a) (US black) money.

[US]Haskins & Butts Psychology of Black Lang. in Major (1994).

(b) (N.Z.) NZ$100.

[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 11: apple 1. $100 [NZ] bill, arrived at in a roundabout way from the rhyming slang ‘apples and spice’ for nice.

7. in uses based on the colour red.

(a) a derog. term for a Native American who is condemned as insufficiently nationalistic, i.e. ‘red on the outside but white within’.

[US]Time 19 Mar. 18: The group’s tactics enrage more conservative Indians, whom AIM refers to as ‘apples’ — red on the outside, white on the inside.
[US]‘Heat Moon’ Blue Highways 182: I’m no apple Indian — red outside and white underneath.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 121: Minority students who act white are identified with slang, for example, apples for ‘Native Americans’, bananas for ‘Asians’, and oreos for ‘African Americans’.

(b) (drugs) any pill capsule coloured red.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 168: Other expressions likened Seconal to [...] ‘food’ that nourishes you – apples, yum yums, jellybeans.
Leah Sareen ‘Not Virtual Just Reality’ Project on Queen Mary ULU, School of English 🌐 Brand names, which reflect the social acceptance of such drugs [i.e. MDMA], include: White Doves, Disco Biscuits, Burgers, Big brown Ones, New Yorkers, Californian Sunrise, Phasers, Whirlwinds, Dollars, Pounds, Apples, to name but a few. 🌐 User reports: Got these lovable Apples in the Great Town of Denver. There are 2 Apples out there and have tried them both together. One being white and the others green. I took the white one first and then a green,an hour and a half later, I was floored.

8. (drugs) anyone who does not use drugs.

[US]A.V. Lloyd Drug Abuse.

9. see apple sauce n.2

10. see horse apple under horse n.

In compounds

applehead (n.) [-head sfx (1)]

(US) a fool, thus adj. apple-headed, foolish.

[US]Sun (NY) 2 Dec. 31/4: You’re your own boss. you don’t have no apple-headed ijiit, with a gol’ eyeglass and sideburn whiskers tellin’ you [etc].
B.M. Bower Phantom Herd 279: ‘Say, Applehead,’ came a plaintive voice from Pink’s bunk.
[US]N.Y. Times 24 Sept. 34: ‘You sir,’ thundered the Old Arbitrator, ‘are an apple-head’ [W&F].
[US](con. 1948) G. Mandel Flee the Angry Strangers 106: I don’t believe that applehead. [Ibid.] 371: You applehead freak.
[US](con. 1940s) G. Mandel Wax Boom 297: This apple-head Spiro?
[US](con. 1930s–50s) D. Wells Night People 117: Apple-head. Apple shaped head.
apple-monger (n.) [-monger sfx + play on SE apple-monger, a dealer in fruit, i.e. ‘ripe’ females]

a pimp.

[UK]R. Nares Gloss. (1888) I 29: †apple-monger. Literally a dealer in apples; but applied to a dealer in fruit in general. The sellers of fruit seem to have been not unfrequently employed in love intrigues, and hence apple-monger is sometimes used in the sense of a bawd, or apple-squire.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 23/2: C.18.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

apple-cart (n.) [pun on the SE, a cart for carrying apples; there is no connection, despite appearances and a ref. in Bee, to the joc. SE phr. upset the applecart, which refers directly to the SE. However, the phr. down with his apple-cart! knock him down! (see under down adv.1 ), seems to suggest a human rather than a vegetable image]

the human body.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
apple-dumpling(s) (shop) (n.) [resemblance to SE apple dumplings]

the female breasts.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Apple Dumpling Shop a Woman’s Bosom.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 108/1: Apple dumplings, a woman’s bosom, dugs, cat’s heads, milk shops.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 94: Deux pommes (les). The paps; ‘the apple-dumpling shop’.
[UK]J. Manchon Le Slang.
apple-eater (n.) [the island's largescale apple cultivation; the island’s approximate apple shape]

(Aus.) an inhabitant of Tasmania.

[Aus]D. Andrew Aussie Sl. 10: Apple Eaters Residents of Tasmania.
apple-guard (n.) [it protects the adam’s apple]

(UK Und.) a scarf and tie.

[UK]Clarkson & Richardson Police! 321: A scarf and tie ... An apple-guard.
apple-john (n.) [SE apple-john, a kind of apple said to keep for two years and to have reached perfection when shrivelled and withered]

a foolish and prob. impotent old man.

[UK]Jonson Every Man Out of his Humour II ii: Some call him Apple-John.
[UK]Jonson Bartholomew Fair I iii: littlewit: A fool-John she calls me [...] A fool-John! quarlous: She may call you an apple-John, if you use this.
apple knock/knocker

see separate entries.

apple-picker (n.) [var. on apple-knocker n.; their stereotyped occupation]

(US) a fool, an unsophisticated person, a country person.

[US]Van Loan ‘Easy Picking’ in Taking the Count 297: You biff this apple picker once on the chin, and we cut the money.
apple pie

see separate entries.

apple polish/polisher

see separate entries.

apple sauce

see separate entries.

apple-shaker (n.)

(US) a rural, unsophisticated person.

G.R. Willis Forecastle 15: The officer called me a ‘hay-maker,’ ‘apple-shaker,’ etc., and ordered me up on the mainyard [...] until some of the hay seed had blown away from me [HDAS].
apple shine/shiner

see separate entries.

apple-squeezer (n.)

(US) a rural, unsophisticated person.

[US](con. 1910s) L. Nason A Corporal Once 206: G’wan, run away back to your own outfit o’ apple-squeezers before someone shakes his fists at yuh.
apple squire (n.) [poss. f. apples n. (1) + SE squire, mocking the esquire or the ‘country squire’; cf. knight of the... n. and its combs.]

1. a pimp.

[UK]R. Copland Hye way to the Spyttel House Diii: Lechours, fornycatours, and aduouterers, / Incestes, harlots, bawdes and bolsterers, / Applesquyers, entycers, and rauyshers, / These to our place haue dayly herbegers.
W. Bullein Dialogue 8: His little lackey, a proper young apple squire, called Pandarus, whiche carrieth the keye of his chamber with hym [F&H].
[UK]Greene Notable Discovery of Coosnage 37: The Bawd, if a man, an Apple squire The whoore, a Commoditie / The whoore house, a Trugging place.
[UK]Jonson Every Man In his Humour V i: And you, young apple squire, and old cuckold maker.
[UK]Dekker Belman of London H1: The base Applesquire and his yong mistres, laughing to see what a woodcocke they puld, and sharing the feathers betweene them.
[UK]Middleton & Rowley A Fair Quarrel IV iv: That name was never thine, But apple-squire and pander.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘A Discovery by Sea’ in Works (1869) II 21: Are Whoremasters decai’d, are Bawds all dead, / Are Pandars, Pimps, and Apple-squires all fled?
[UK]T. Nabbes Microcosmus Act V: Together with my lady’s, my fortune fell, and of her gentleman usher I became her apple squire, to hold the door and keep centinel at taverns.
[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 35 24–31 Jan. 276: A Shee-Costermonger, daughter to an Apple-Squire in Kent, which sells open Arses dead and alive.
[UK]C. Cotton Scoffer Scoff’d (1765) 218: And even of Stocks and Stones enquire / Of Atys, her small Apple-squire.
R. Herrick Poor Robin... n.p.: Little truth will be found amongst cut-purses, liars, bawds, whores, pimps, pandars, and apple-squires [F&H].
[UK]R. Nares Gloss. (1888) I 29: apple squire. A cant word, formerly in use to signify a pimp.
[UK]C. Kingsley Westward Ho III 295: Here’s a fellow calls himself the captain of a ship, and Her Majesty’s servant, and talks about failing, as if he were a Barbican loose-kirtle trying to keep her applesquire ashore!
[UK]C. Hindley Old Book Collector’s Misc. 11: apple squires. — Pimps, panders.

2. a kept man; occas. as v.

[UK]Nashe Unfortunate Traveller in Works V (1883–4) 157: What a proper apple-squire is this you bring so suspitiously into my chamber?
J. Hall Satires in Davenport (1949) I ii 35: Each base Apple-squire, / Can serve to sate their beastly lewd desire.
[UK]R. Nares Gloss. (1888) I 29: apple squire is also used for a kept gallant.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 8: Aide-mari, m. A married woman’s lover; ‘an apple-squire’.
[UK]A.R.D. Fairburn letter in Edmond Letters (1981) 1 Feb. 31: Douglas Glass has gone to Holland, where he is apple-squiring a rich Dutch bluestocking who has fallen madly in love with him.
apple tart

see separate entries.

In phrases

apples to ashes (n.) [cognate with ‘one rotten apple’]

(US) an absolute certainty.

[US]A.H. Lewis ‘The Humming Bird’ in Sandburrs 26: Youse put a poor sucker in d’ dark hole, an’ be d’ end of ten hours it’s apples to ashes he ain’t onto it whether he’s been in a day or a week.
[US]A.H. Lewis Boss 275: ‘He would seek worse resorts?’ ‘It’s a cinch, Madam!’ ‘And he’d be murdered?’ ‘Madam, it’s apples to ashes!’.
apple up (v.) [the image of handing up an apple to teacher]

(US) to toady, to curry favour.

[US] in DARE.
for sour apples (adv.)

(US) a general intensifier, meaning ‘at all’; usu. in negative, not for sour apples, not at all; often not like for sour apples, to have no interest in whatsoever.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Nov. 38/1: ‘Is he much of an actor?’ / ‘Not much. Pretty fair in Shakspeare. But, Gad, sir! he can’t patter or do a clog dance for sour apples.’.
[US]J. London Smoke Bellew (1926) 170: The table stood close to the fire, and the blamed wheel’s warped. [...] He couldn’t have bucked for sour apples at any other table.
[US]D. Dodge Bullets For The Bridegroom (1953) 15: He didn’t like Walter Gates for sour apples.
[NZ]N. Hilliard Maori Girl 216: But I can’t paint for sour apples.
[US](con. 1900s) G. Swarthout Shootist 132: You can’t fight for sour apples.
get the apple (v.) [? the fig. ‘sourness’]

(US) to blunder, to make mistakes.

[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 139: Get him off the script for one question and he gets the apple right away.
sad apple (n.)

1. (US, also sad bird) a contemptible person.

[US]Boston Globe Sun. Mag. 21 Dec. 7–8: The ‘sad bird’ or the ‘sad weed,’ the man who is not popular.
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 211: sad bird, someone of little account, worthless, or unscrupulous.
[US]P. Kendall Dict. Service Sl. n.p.: sad apple ... a goldbrick. One who shuns work.
[US]B. Stiles Serenade to the Big Bird 65: There are some sad apples in every land.
[US]Boys’ Life Aug. 29: ‘If I can’t put all four arrows in the center, I’m a sad apple.’ Zing went the shaft, and the sad apple watched it hit five feet beyond the target.

2. a pitiable person.

[UK]J. Viertel To Love and Corrupt 286: Oh, that Ellie was a sad apple.
smart apple (n.)

(US) a bright, intelligent person.

[UK]H. Brown Walk in Sun 48: Tyne, you’re a smart apple. Keep your head.
[US](con. 1944) N. Mailer Naked and Dead 293: You got to be a smart apple if you want to live big.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 84: Some smart apple started to check out the unidentified bodies in the morgue.
[US]T. Berger Who is Teddy Villanova? 234: You’re some kinda real smart apple.
square apple (n.) [square adj. (11)]

1. (US Und.) an innocent, a naïve, gullible individual.

[US]D. Lamson We Who Are About to Die 182: Now that’s a square apple for you, see?
[US]D. Maurer ‘Lang. of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in Lang. Und. (1981).
S.F. Examiner (CA) 12 July 38/1: Loudest of the squawkers turned out to be [...] one Joe ‘Square Apple’ Lynch of Los Angeles.
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore 173: Square apple – A person free from addiction.

2. (US police) a police officer or private indiidual who is not susceptible to corruption.

[US]C. Stoker Thicker ’n Thieves 66: Among police officers, Lieutenant Stewart was what is known as a ‘square apple,’ meaning that he didn’t take graft, and that he didn’t countenance the taking of graft by anyone who worked under him.
twisting apple (n.)

(US black) the earth, the world.

[US]D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam News 7 June. 13: We young cats is hipped [...] on what’s wrong with the twistin’ apple.
wise apple (n.)

(US) one who is too clever for their own good.

[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 174: A wise apple. But he didn’t bother me.
[US]B. Stiles Serenade to the Big Bird 76: If the wise-apples could just decide now [...] that everybody has enough peanut butter and toilet paper.
[US]Laurents & Sondheim West Side Story II i: OK, wise apples, down to the station house.
[US]G. Wolff Duke of Deception (1990) 185: The rest of us – ‘negos,’ carpers, corner-cutters, and wise-apples – bucked the system and had some fun.
[US]J. Ciardi Good Words 298: Wise apple. A shrewd person.

In exclamations

tough apples! [? euph. or abbr. road apple under road n.]

(US) a response indicating a lack of sympathy with the speaker.

Maurer & McLeod Theatre Happening 166: I don’t care if you are my family, you can damn well leave me alone to run my own life ... if you don't like it . . . tough apples!
[US]I. Faust Willy Remembers 89: Tracy [...] figured he should be with the Rough Riders, but being just a middle shot, got us. Tough apples. 7 Nov. 🌐 We can expect the usual howls of protest from the misguided souls at the American Civil Liberties Union who may not be terribly sanguine about Big Brother watching traffic, but to those civil libertarians, we say tough apples.
B. Leith Housebroken 57: Quickly I mutter ‘Tough apples!’ then toss my braids, shrugging past that awful lady which only confirms her poor opinion of me. ‘Spoiled rotten’ I hear her hiss.