sour grapes

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From Aesop's fable The Fox and the Grapes, in which a fox, unable to reach grapes it is seeking, convinces itself that they must have been unripe (therefore, sour) all along and so not worthwhile trying for in the first place.


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sour grapes pl (plural only)

  1. (literally) Grapes that are acid due to lacking maturity.
    Synonyms: unripe grapes, green grapes, immature grapes
  2. (idiomatic) Things that somebody pretends to despise because they cannot obtain or have.
  3. (idiomatic) A putting down or expression of disdain about something that one desires but cannot have.
    I think his comments about that new car are just sour grapes because he can't afford it.
    • 2010, Naomi Oreskes; Erik M. Conway, chapter 2, in Merchants of Doubt:
      Despite the egos of individual scientists, the jealousies and the sour grapes, science had worked pretty much the way it was supposed to.
    • 2018 May 26, Daniel Taylor, “Liverpool go through after Mohamed Salah stops Manchester City fightback”, in The Guardian (London)[1]:
      His absence was a grievous setback for Liverpool, who had looked the more dangerous team until that point, and it would not be sour grapes for the losers to think that was the moment the game started to swing away from them.


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