bad apple

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the proverb “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch” (or a variant thereof).

Pronunciation[edit]

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Noun[edit]

bad apple (plural bad apples)

  1. (idiomatic) A person who is not wholesome, honest, or trustworthy, especially one who has an adverse influence on others.
    • 1956 March 19, “Echoing Ring (book review of Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris)”, in Time[1], archived from the original on 2012-03-11:
      There is one bad apple, and that is Katie, the beautiful prostitute with whom Catcher Bruce is in love. Unlike the cliche harlot of fiction, she is as short of compassion as Bruce is of IQ.
    • 2003 October 5, Steven Greenhouse, “Unions See Politics in New Disclosure Rules”, in New York Times[2]:
      While most union leaders are people of integrity, there are still bad apples.
    • 2006 January 27, Jeff Madrick, “Wall Street: More than few bad apples”, in New York Times[3]:
      If anyone still harbors the fantasy that the business scandals of the past few years were the handiwork of just a few bad apples, they should read John Bogle's "Battle for the Soul of Capitalism."

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