Upset the Apple Cart / Applecart

Volume 3. Issue 2. 

What was said? We don’t want to upset the apple cart by changing the time of our workshop…

Did someone really say that? Yesa team member said it in a meeting… then it was repeated two more times that very day!

What does it mean? It means to cause trouble, upset things or create difficulty… especially by spoiling someone’s plans.

Origin:  There are a roughly four variations of the origin of this phrase….

1. This phrase is first recorded by Jeremy Belknap in The History of New Hampshire, 1788: “Adams had almost overset the apple-cart by intruding an amendment of his own fabrication on the morning of the day of ratification” [of the Constitution].

2. According to another source, the original intent was to throw a man down. In the early to late 1800s “apple cart” was wrestlers’ slang for the body and “down with his apple cart” was to throw a man down.

3. Alternatively, some say the concept originated with the Romans who had a similar expression “Perii, plaustrum perculi” – “I am undone, I have upset my cart.”

4. Most basic / generic understanding: It generally refers to farmers in the  1800s would bring applecarts loaded with neatly piled, fresh apples for sale. Along comes a clumsy person who knocks over the cart, spilling all the apples.The farmer’s plan to sell the apples is in turn, “spoiled”.


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