Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Why We Say: #5

“I tell you, George, my daughter is the cutest little thing.  I come home and she runs up and jumps into my arms. She wraps herself around me, gives me a big smooch and says, ‘Daddy!’ Makes me swell up with sheer happiness. She’s a precious blessing–she is the apple of my eye.”

Image: Morguefile


According to my reference book, sometime around in the 9th century people began to realize apples were fairly tasty  and  valued them.  Eyes, being valued, somehow drew the same worth as apples, and so, when something was valued it became the “apple of the eye.”


We have all kinds of expressions relaying our appreciation for things, such as”You’re the best!” “You’re one in a million!” Being the apple of someone’s eye? I guess that’s right up there with the “bees knees.”


My Thoughts

The book offers a really weak explanation. Apples have been a loooong time, and seeing as how they are fairly inexpensive and easy to obtain I’m having a tough time grasping that eyes and apples are on the same scale of value. I definitely think eyes are more precious than a Golden Delicous or even a Honey Crisp. However, I do see the connection between apples and eyes in that the pupil looks like an apple in shape.  I associate apples with knowledge (ahem, Eve) and seeing someone as being special means you have learned their value.

There must be a better explanation out there?  Anyone?


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8 thoughts on “Why We Say: #5

  1. Fantastic post! Very thought provoking!
    I am fascinated with word origins, and where those odd little expressions come from. I don’t, however have an earthly clue, as to, how the apple or bees knees, for that matter, came to be such valued commodities.
    Perhaps apples were once much rarer than they are now, or maybe it is a reference to how sweet certain varieties are.

  2. I shall appl(e)y myself to find an answer.

  3. What a beautiful eye. Doesn’t look like mine at all. I think the bee’s knees is the bee’s knees as far as sayings go. I use it frequently but now I’m having trouble finding words to use in place of it. The best ? Nothing like it ? Irreplaceable ?

  4. I’m with you. I always thought that phrase “apple of my eye” came from the Eve story. Hmm, that’s a bit of a questionable origin then, isn’t it?

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