What Does An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away Mean?

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away Meaning

Definition: If one eats healthy, one will get sick and require the doctor less often.

The proverb an apple a day keeps the doctor away means that, if one eats healthy foods, one will remain in good health and will not need to see the doctor often. The proverb does not literally mean that, if one eats an apple every single day, one will remain in good health.

In this phrase, apple refers to healthy or preventive daily habits.

Origin of An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms puts the first use of this idiom around 1630, but there is no exact citation to its first use.

one apple a day keeps the doctor awaySome early uses of it include a slightly varied version in an 1866 edition of the Welsh magazine, Notes and Queries:

  • Eat an apple on going to bed, And you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.

The proverb as we see it and know it today first appeared in Rustic Speech and Folk-lore, published in 1913 by Elizabeth Wright.

It should be noted that apple in the original proverb may have referred to any round fruit. In Old English, apple was used to allude to round fruits that grew on trees.

Examples of An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

an apple a day keep doctor away This example exchange between a mother and her daughter shows how this proverb is used in everyday speech.

Trixie: My stomach hurts. I think I ate too much pizza.

Mom: You wouldn’t hurt so much if you ate properly. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

More Examples

  • As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, which is why the physicians with Primary Care Professionals are hosting an Open House giving away taffy apples, an Apple iPad and health screenings. – Chicago Tribune
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away – and so does sauerkraut, a new cancer study shows. – NY Post

Summary

The English proverb an apple a day keeps the doctor away means that one should eat healthy if one does not want to suffer from ill health or doctor visits.

The original proverb may not have referred specifically to the health benefits of apples, since apple in Old English referred to any fruit that was round in shape and grew on a tree.