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Old 08-13-2019, 02:32 PM
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What is the antonym idiom of "Low Hanging Fruit"?


What would be the opposite of this term, as an idiom? Obviously "High hanging fruit" would be the literal opposite, but no one says this.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:37 PM
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Since "low-hanging fruit" implies obtaining something after minimal effort, its antonym should indicate a goal achieved after maximal effort.

If you're after an existing idiom, I'd nominate "putting a man on the moon." Sure, it originated in a literal action, but has since become a shorthand for things humanity can accomplish when we put our minds to it.

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 08-13-2019 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:44 PM
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A tough row to hoe?
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Since "low-hanging fruit" implies obtaining something after minimal effort, its antonym should indicate a goal achieved after maximal effort.

If you're after an existing idiom, I'd nominate "putting a man on the moon." Sure, it originated in a literal action, but has since become a shorthand for things humanity can accomplish when we put our minds to it.
Thanks. I'm thinking of something not quite so extreme. The opposite of "quick fixes" I suppose. I don't want to imply a "Hurculean Effort", hehe. Something totally doable but not without some effort.

Last edited by Ashtura; 08-13-2019 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
If you're after an existing idiom, I'd nominate "putting a man on the moon." Sure, it originated in a literal action, but has since become a shorthand for things humanity can accomplish when we put our minds to it.
The term "moonshot" is used more colloquially. Meaning a project that is hard to do with a chance of success that is far from 100%.

Last edited by leahcim; 08-13-2019 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:54 PM
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Used not exactly as opposite but in a similar sense :

1. law of diminishing returns
2. The last 10% of a project takes 90% of the time
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:54 PM
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buckling down
burning the candle at both ends
burning the midnight oil
giving 110%
going the extra mile
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:55 PM
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Tough sledding?

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Old 08-13-2019, 03:02 PM
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Low !/$ (pronounced "low bang for buck")

"Low hanging fruit" doesn't mean "easy"; it means improvements that have a high rate of return compared to their investment. "Moonshot" doesn't fit--that was a big return for a big investment. am77494 suggestions are more accurate in that they refer to those things you save for last, because you've run out of things with a better return.
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Old 08-13-2019, 03:03 PM
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Hmm, I like "going the extra mile". That implies that it's worthwhile. I'd like a noun equivalent.
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Old 08-13-2019, 03:15 PM
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Swinging for the fences.
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Old 08-13-2019, 03:53 PM
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I would agree that "low hanging fruit" has connotations of ease, certainty, and significant benefit with minimum effort. So which one of these (or what other elements) do we emphasize in seeking an antonym?

Are we looking for a phrase that means "very hard to do, but certain of benefit?" Or, "easy to do, but with no benefit?" Or, "hard to do, with very little certainty of success?" I'm not trying to quibble, but there's lots of wiggle room in what the antonym might be.

For example, our project planners might say, "In an ideal world, what do we want to achieve?" when they want us to speculate on the best possible results, regardless of how much effort, money, or time it will take.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:01 PM
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What is the antonym idiom of "Low Hanging Fruit"?
Ovaries?
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:11 PM
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Reach for the stars.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ZonexandScout View Post
Are we looking for a phrase that means "very hard to do, but certain of benefit?" Or, "easy to do, but with no benefit?" Or, "hard to do, with very little certainty of success?" I'm not trying to quibble, but there's lots of wiggle room in what the antonym might be.
Yes, the OP has clarified that s/he is looking for the "antonym" of "quick fixes," but I don't think that's what "low hanging fruit" means.

It could be that there just isn't a single "antonym," (at least not one the fits the OP's needs). Idioms aren't mathematical terms. They arise out of certain contexts, and there can be several with similar ideas but which address those different contexts in different ways.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:18 PM
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I think am74944 nailed it. I can just hear this in a company meeting: "We already got the low-hanging fruit; now we've been chasing ever-diminishing returns and scraping the bottom of the barrel."
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Last edited by Ponderoid; 08-13-2019 at 04:20 PM. Reason: my imaginary company meeting provided more
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:19 PM
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Gold medal.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:21 PM
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:57 PM
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I’d argue that “brass ring” is antipodal to “low-hanging fruit.”

“Low-hanging fruit” refers to something that’s desirable and easily achievable.

“Reaching for the brass ring” is an attempt to achieve something that many desire but few attain.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:59 PM
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Setting a high bar?
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It may be because I'm a drooling simpleton with the attention span of a demented gnat, but would you mind explaining everything in words of one syllable. 140 chars max.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:22 PM
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"Like squeezing blood from a turnip."

"The juice isn’t worth the squeeze."

And, for something that doesn’t involve a squeeze...

"The last mile." (though that’s most appropriate for those familiar with shipping problems or supply chain management)
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:29 PM
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Speaking of squeezing, how about "Squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube"?
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:35 PM
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I feel that low hanging fruit are goals that are very easy to achieve. So I feel the opposite would be goals which are very hard to achieve, which is why I suggested reaching for the stars.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:48 PM
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But all fruit is equal. Low-hanging fruit yields as much reward as fruit high up on the tree (theoretically, I’m sure someone who picks a lot of fruit will beg to differ) but the effort required to achieve that reward is least for the low-hanging fruit.

It’s not just that some goals are easier than others, but that the ratio of return to risk/effort/time/what-have-you is greater for some simply by virtue of their being easier to accomplish. Low-hanging fruit.

So the opposite of that, in my opinion, would be something that yields the same sort of return as an alternative source of reward, but requires considerably more effort.
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:03 PM
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The problem with expressions like “blood from a turnip” and the “last toothpaste in the tube” is that they describe trying to achieve something that’s almost certainly impossible and/or not all that desirable in the first place.

Low-hanging fruit are certainly desirable—they’re just easy to acquire. If you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, you’re getting dregs, which are no one’s first choice.

As others have pointed out, a lot of this hinges on how we define “opposite.” Is the opposite of “desirable and easily achieved,” “undesirable and hard to achieve” or “desirable and hard to achieve?”

The OP mentioned that the phrase “high-hanging fruit,” while awkward, captures the desired sentiment. So it seems (to me, at least) that the OP is going for a phrase describing something desirable but not easily won.
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Since "low-hanging fruit" implies obtaining something after minimal effort, its antonym should indicate a goal achieved after maximal effort.
Holy Grail.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:55 PM
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Scaling Everest?
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
Speaking of squeezing, how about "Squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube"?
Best antonym pairing so far: low-hanging fruit [easy pickings for high yield] <--> the last toothpaste in the tube [lots of effort for little worth].
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Strangelove View Post
Low !/$ (pronounced "low bang for buck")

"Low hanging fruit" doesn't mean "easy"; it means improvements that have a high rate of return compared to their investment. "Moonshot" doesn't fit--that was a big return for a big investment. am77494 suggestions are more accurate in that they refer to those things you save for last, because you've run out of things with a better return.
The smallest return-to-effort ratio is going for what you can't have, but while that's an idiom it's a literal one. A related one is the forbidden fruit: going for what you can have but it's going to be complicated and the cost will be much higher than you first thought (not that Adam and Eve had it very difficult to actually reach the fruit, but they did pay a high price for it).
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Last edited by Nava; 08-13-2019 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:30 PM
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Hard nut to crack.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:32 PM
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I’ve got it!

"High-falling rock-poison."

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 08-13-2019 at 11:34 PM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:37 PM
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In Spanish I've heard a tí sólo te gusta Doña Inés, "you only like Doña Inés": the novice Doña Inés is the single one of the many women wooed by Don Juan Tenorio with whom he actually falls in love, but he is unable to truly do the right thing (being too used to finish any relationship once he's gotten his prey) and destroys both their lives. Note that there are an absurd amount of versions of Don Juan, he's probably the Spanish equivalent of Romeo and Juliet in terms of international appeal; people know Don Quijote but he gets mentioned, not reused.

Last edited by Nava; 08-13-2019 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:09 AM
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"Reach for the Moon", or, my favorite mixed metaphor, "Rocket Surgery".
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:07 AM
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Let's go for the low hanging fruit and put the rest on the back burner.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:22 AM
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"Stretch goal" may be another relevant phrase.
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:35 AM
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Low hanging fruit as a metaphor means you walk through the orchard and can simply pick it hanging in your face - you don't have to stretch,, climb trees, etc. Maximum reward for minimum effort.

I've seen this mentioned in task analysis as similar to the Pareto Principle's biggest item - if you can fix 80% of your problems with one effort, then you can quickly improve your statistics. But then, the fixes for the next 20% of problems will not yield as big an improvement as easily.

These are the hard bits. the ones you really have to work for. You have to get the step ladder, keep moving it, and only get a few fruit with each trip up the ladder.

This would be tough slogging, the last mile, buried treasure (depending on the payoff). I'll agree "scraping the bottom of the barrel" is a good idiom.
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
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The term "moonshot" is used more colloquially. Meaning a project that is hard to do with a chance of success that is far from 100%.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Reach for the stars.
These two can be combined into one saying:

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.” - Norman Vincent Peale

However, if one is landing among stars, that would suggest that one has landed nowhere near one's target, the Moon.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:27 AM
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I think the Dutch expression "laatste loodjes" nicely expresses the opposite of low hanging fruit.

Translated here as the "home stretch"
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:38 AM
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"Low hanging fruit" is a noun. The opposite must be a noun too. It refers to the easiest part of a project, usually done first. The opposite would be the parts that are the most out of reach and difficult, but that must be accomplished for the project. So it's more specific than being difficult.

If I was speaking I might use the term " the beast" for it. "I'm going for the low hanging fruit this week, leaving the beast for later." Also people used to say "the bitch" to refer to it.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:55 AM
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"Sour Grapes"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fox_and_the_Grapes
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:00 PM
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However, if one is landing among stars, that would suggest that one has landed nowhere near one's target, the Moon.
It would also imply that you're dead and floating through the void of space for all eternity. Who knew positive thinking could be so depressing?
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:58 PM
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Slightly different from what the OP is asking, but "something that requires investing efforts for unlikely return" will be:

"A wild goose chase"
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:07 AM
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I've heard black hole, treadmill, and bottomless pit all used to describe high effort project tasks with the same reward as low effort project tasks.
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Old 08-15-2019, 09:37 AM
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I think am74944 nailed it. I can just hear this in a company meeting: "We already got the low-hanging fruit; now we've been chasing ever-diminishing returns and scraping the bottom of the barrel."
If that is indeed the context.

But the OP hasn't really given an exact context, so everyone here is just throwing out answers blindly.
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:27 AM
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... everyone here is just throwing out answers blindly.
I finally found a thread that plays to my strengths!
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:28 AM
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I've heard black hole, treadmill, and bottomless pit all used to describe high effort project tasks with the same reward as low effort project tasks.
But those imply no reward or futility more than anything.

The opposite of "easy pickin's" is tasks that are difficult and/or the payoff is not high.
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Old 08-15-2019, 11:41 AM
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Low hanging fruit has high ROI (Return On Investment). One opposite are items with low ROI.

Other terms we use in project planning are Long Poles (things that are required but will take the longest amount of time so they set the schedule) or Heavy Lifting (things that aren't easy so they will require resources and time, but are necessary and provide high value).
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