I came along this phrase in a sentence like so

... can be compared apples to apples

I guess it has something to do with apples to apples game, but I couldn't figure it out. What does this idiomatic phrase mean.

  • The Apples to Apples party game is not a popular enough game to have spawned the phrase.
    – swbarnes2
    Jan 28 '14 at 18:40
  • 1
    In fact, it's quite the opposite - the game Apples to Apples takes its name from the idiom. Apr 29 '18 at 15:44

Comparing apples to apples means comparing things that can reasonably be compared, while the phrase apples to oranges often is used to represent a comparison that is unreasonable or perhaps impossible.

As noted in wikipedia,

The idiom, comparing apples and oranges, refers to the apparent differences between items which are popularly thought to be incomparable or incommensurable, such as apples and oranges. The idiom may also be used to indicate that a false analogy has been made between two items, such as where an apple is faulted for not being a good orange.

  • 4
    As a concrete example, if you compare two people's wealth by comparing their latest paychecks, you are probably comparing "apples to oranges", since one person may be paid once a month while another may be paid every week. An "apples to apples" comparison would be to compare their yearly income.
    – Wayne
    Feb 14 '14 at 1:46
  • "comparing apples to [or and] oranges" is much more commonly used. A derivation of that phrase, to "compare apples to apples", is not commonly used, but would be quickly understand to mean that you're comparing or judging like things.
    – Phil Perry
    Jun 10 '14 at 13:26

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