Whence the meme: "How d'you like THEM apples!"

I hear and read this phrase used in a tone suggestive of payback and glee at vengeful justice being served. Sort of like Hamlet saying, “Tis sport to have the engineer hoist by his own petard”, but more rustic and American-sounding.

So… Why “them apples” instead of “those apples”? Why apples and not pears?

Is this a literary or movie reference?

According to a post on The Phrase Finder:

Probably not the origin, but it likely gained wider use after it was used in John Wayne’s* Rio Bravo * (1959)

I hadn’t heard it until I saw Good Will Hunting.

I have my own variation, in which I say “How do you like that apple?”

Yeah, but how often do you find yourself talking to Gwyneth Paltrow’s kid?

::nitpick:: “hoist with his own petard” ::nitpick::


That’s a link to the last time this one came up. It seems to come up with some frequency.

And there’s a link to a previous one to that.

::nit nitpick:: Wouldn’t it be: “by his own petard”? ::nit nitpick::
[sub]Does the ? go outside the quote?[/sub]

Not per Shakespeare himself:

No. It goes inside the quote (at least here in the US; I can’t speak for what those Brits do–well, except for the above Shakespeare quote).

For us not so well dressed in english lingo, what does “Hoist with his own petard” mean? Is it somekind of classical wedgie? :dubious:

A petard was a medieval explosive device, commonly used to breach gates or walls when assaulting a castle. To be hoist by one’s own petard means you have fallen into your own trap. In this context, “hoist” means to be lifted, or blown up.

Thanks, ignorance fought. Carry on!

A petard was an explosive charge, used in medeval times to blow up doors and ramparts on castles that were being attacked. As medeval seige engineers hadn’t figured out how to make remote controls, the practice was to place the charge, light it, and run the hell away before it blew up.

Needless to say, occasionally you wouldn’t make it quite out of the blast radius before the charge went off, and you might end up “hoist” (thrown up into the air) by your own petard.

As it makes a pretty amusing and apt metaphor for being undone by one’s own scheme, it passed into the language as a regular phrase.

Shakespeare - pffft. What’s he done for us lately?

Google fight!


It’s a meme? Is anything *not *a meme these days?

I can’t help wondering if Richard Dawkins is slightly horrified at the way geeks have latched on to his rather throwaway notion of “memes”, applying it to anything and everything.

The term “meme” itself is now something of a meme. Why, I even use the word now when warming up my singing voice. “Meme, meme, meme, meme…”

Joking aside, and as the OP who usd the term in the title of the post, I thought one of the core concepts of the term “meme” was to embody “something that is culturally transmitted but exhibits properties of genetic recombination and mutation”. And language use is usually cited as a primary means of transmitting memes. I would assume etymology is therefore essentially trying to do comparative memetics, to find a “common ancestor” just as one may compare genetic material between related species.

It’s using “meme” to describe something like, “where’d people get the stereotype of the girls who like guys who are jerks to them” that doesn’t make sense to me.

Don’t look here.