# Does the order of adjectives matter in this case?

I peeled an apple, and then sliced the apple. So I sliced the apple after I peeled the apple.

In this case, doesn't it matter whether I say "peeled sliced apple" or "sliced peeled apple"?

Or should I say "sliced peeled apple" because I peeled it first and sliced it second?

• A recipe would say "One apple, peeled and sliced" implying that you peel it first. Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 15:09
• @KateBunting that's true because "and" implies sequence, but irrelevant to the question because there is no "and" in "peeled sliced apple" Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 5:58
• @JavaLatte - Duh! I know that, I was just suggesting a more idiomatic way to say it. Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 9:41

## 2 Answers

I can't find anything in writing to suggest that the order of adjectives bears any relationship to the order of processing, which backs up my opinion that it's not significant.

That said, this NGram graph shows that sliced peeled is significantly more common than peeled sliced. Given that it's usually easier to peel something before slicing it, because you can take off all of the skin in one piece, it seems that more people think that sliced peeled peaches means peeled peaches that have then been sliced, rather than sliced peaches that have then been peeled- in other words, the order of the adjectives is the reverse of the order of processing.

• I think so, because I think "broken healed legs" suggests healed legs have been broken, and "healed broken legs" suggests broken legs have been healed. What do you think?
– user182348
Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 13:48

Actually, it would be far more idiomatic to say "sliced and peeled" or "peeled and sliced", though peeled and sliced is the more likely, since most people peel first then slice, though not everyone does it that way. In any case, it would be the rare cookbook indeed that had these particular adjectives separated by a comma.

The order of operations in the real world can have an impact on the order of adjectives when separated by and.

Here's your suit, cleaned and pressed.

I'd like the car washed and waxed.

But the influence of the real-world there occurs mainly with very common sequential operations that everyone is familiar with.

Again, in such combinations this would be unidiomatic:

Here's your cleaned, pressed suit. nobody says this

And if you insisted on making the adjectives premodifiers, the order of adjectives would not necessarily parallel the order of the operations:

Here's your waxed, washed car.

The adjective in the first position needn't be the first thing in real-world time. "washed, waxed" would be peculiar. It's likely to be the inverse of the real-world sequence in cases where the order of operations is predetermined and not subject to human idiosyncracy.