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English Language Institute

Autumn Harvest: Idioms for Apples, Nuts and Leaves

Fall color in NYC Autumn has arrived in New York.  The air is crisp and fresh and the skies are clear and bright blue.  It is a good time of year to get outside and breathe in the smell of earth and take in the colors of the leaves.  It’s also a good time of year to get your favorite blanket and cuddle up with a good English language course at Pace University.  We have classes starting almost every week.  Students at Pace learn new expressions in every course but here we shall focus on idioms that highlight what autumn has to offer.

Fall apple#1 Apples

Let’s start with apples!  Apple picking and pumpkin picking are synonymous with fall.  Farmers open their orchards to allow visitors pick their own fruit.  It is an annual tradition for many Americans to take their families to an apple farm and pick more apples than a family can eat.  People make apple pie, applesauce, apple tarts. 

We are going to make apple idioms.

Lisa and her son the apple of her eyeThe apple of (someone’s) eye is the person who is most loved or cherished by someone else; someone who one is proud of.  It is most commonly used when parents are talking about their children

Example:  Susan loves all of her children but little Bobby is definitely the apple of her eye because he is the youngest and sweetest.

This is a picture of me and my son apple picking many years ago. He is definitely the apple of my eye.

running in apple orchard the apple never falls far from the treeThe apple never falls far from the tree is used when someone has the same personality as their parents or relatives.  They behave just like them.  It can have a negative or positive meaning.


Positive: Mary wants to be a doctor just like her mom.  She is smart and ambitious like her mom and will be an amazing doctor.  The apple never falls far from the tree.

Negative:  Billy’s room is so messy.  He leaves his stinky socks and dirty dishes everywhere.  The apple does not fall far from the tree.  His father does the same thing.

A bad apple is someone who is a bad influence or gets others in trouble.

Example:  The twins are 12 years old but they are already getting in trouble with the police for stealing and vandalism.  They are really bad apples and I tell my children to stay away from them.  I hope they will change their ways before they end up in jail.

Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year.  The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” – J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter

lets get nuts#2 Nuts

Now, let’s go nuts!  This can also be expressed as “let’s go crazy!”

To drive someone nuts is to make someone feel crazy or feel annoyed.  (Similar expressions: to drive someone crazy, to drive someone bonkers, to drive someone up a wall)

Example: Many parents have been home with their kids 24/7 for the past 6 months.  I bet many are thinking, “These kids are driving me nuts.  They are loud and messy and needy and…  This quarantine needs to end!  Help!” 

To be nuts about someone/something is to really like someone/something.

Example:  Mary is nuts about Peter.  She only met him last week but you can tell she is already falling in love with him.

squirrel surfingTo squirrel something away is to hide something like a squirrel does in Autumn. It is used when talking about something that you want to hide or to save for the future, as squirrels hide their nuts.

Example: Sarah squirreled away $5 million while she was working and now she can enjoy her retirement.  She recently bought a boat and now surfs all the time.  I’m so jealous.

#3 Leaves

The leaves of autumn are beautiful.  Let’s move on to idioms related to leaves and honor their magnificence.

turn over a new leaf To turn over a new leaf is to begin again; to start anew; to reform; to refresh.

Example: Peter has been in trouble for years at school and with his parents.  He cares more about his friends than his studies.  He does not study hard and has poor grades.  Surprisingly, he wants to be an engineer and next year he will start applying to colleges.  Now he realizes that he had better turn over a new leaf and do better in school or he will never achieve his goals.

autumn leaf with heart cut outTo shake like a leaf is to tremble usually from fear or cold temperatures.

Example:  Mary was shaking like a leaf after seeing a bear in her backyard.  The bear was growling angrily and standing on its hind legs.  She must have been so scared.

Autumn years are the later years of someone’s life.

Example: She spent her autumn years surrounded by family and best friends and gardening.  She really enjoyed those final years of her life.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus

Enjoy this beautiful season wherever you are.  Hopefully, you learned something new today.  If you want to continue studying English, Pace University’s English Language Institute has the perfect online course for you.   Visit the ELI websitecontact the ELI  or apply here.

Stay healthy and be well.

It was a beautiful bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it.”  – Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

Word list:

  • cuddle up (verb):  to nestle or snuggle close to someone or something to get warm or to be intimate.
  • synonymous (adjective):  (of a word or phrase) having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or phrase in the same language
  • orchard (noun): a piece of land planted with fruit trees.
  • vandalism (noun): action involving deliberate destruction of or damage to public or private property.
  • retirement (noun): the action or fact of leaving one's job and ceasing to work.
  • magnificence (noun):  the quality of being beautiful and wonderful
  • growling (verb):  The low, guttural, menacing sound made by an animal
  • hind (legs) (adjective):  back (legs) on an animal