Green’s Dictionary of Slang

apple n.1

1. [late 19C+] a person.

2. [1920s+] a foolish person, a ‘sucker’.

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

(a) [1910s-30s] a ball.

(b) [1960s] the head.

4. [late 19C+] (Aus./US Und., also big apple, top apple) an important person.

5. [1960s+] (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)].

6. in uses based on the colour green.

(a) [1960s–70s] (US black) money.

(b) [2000s] (N.Z.) NZ$100.

7. in uses based on the colour red.

(a) [1970s+] a derog. term for a Native American who is condemned as insufficiently nationalistic, i.e. ‘red on the outside but white within’.

(b) [1980s] (drugs) any pill capsule coloured red.

8. [1980s] (drugs) anyone who does not use drugs.

9. see apple sauce n.2

10. see horse apple under horse n.

In compounds

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

[20C+] (US) a fool, thus adj. apple-headed, foolish.

apple-monger (n.) [-monger sfx + play on SE apple-monger, a dealer in fruit, i.e. ‘ripe’ females]

[18C] a pimp.

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]

[late 18C+] the human body.

apple-dumpling(s) (shop) (n.) [resemblance to SE apple dumplings]

[late 18C–1920s] the female breasts.

apple-guard (n.) [it protects the adam’s apple]

[late 19C] (UK Und.) a scarf and tie.

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]

[late 16C–early 17C] a foolish and prob. impotent old man.

apple knock/knocker

see separate entries.

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

[1910s] (US) a fool, an unsophisticated person, a country person.

apple pie

see separate entries.

apple polish/polisher

see separate entries.

apple sauce

see separate entries.

apple-shaker (n.)

[mid–late 19C] (US) a rural, unsophisticated person.

apple shine/shiner

see separate entries.

apple-squeezer (n.)

[1930s] (US) a rural, unsophisticated person.

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.] [16C–19C]

1. a pimp.

2. a kept man; occas. as v.

apple tart

see separate entries.

In phrases

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

[late 19C–1900s] (US) an absolute certainty.

apple up (v.) [the image of handing up an apple to teacher]

[1960s] (US) to toady, to curry favour.

for sour apples (adv.)

[1910s–60s] (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.

get the apple (v.) [? the fig. ‘sourness’]

[1970s] (US) to blunder, to make mistakes.

punch the apple (v.)

[1960s+] to masturbate.

sad apple (n.) [1910s–40s]

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

2. a pitiable person.

smart apple (n.)

[20C+] (US) a bright, intelligent person.

square apple (n.) [square adj. (11)]

[1930s–50s] (US Und.) an innocent, a naïve, gullible individual.

wise apple (n.)

[1940s+] (US) one who is too clever for their own good.

In exclamations

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

[1960s+] (US) a response indicating a lack of sympathy with the speaker.