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Please see this example. The poster uses the word lemon in the last sentence. I understand in a general sense that this is being used to indicate something bad or more specifically of inferior quality.

Indeed, Roget's Thesaurus shows the following synonyms for lemon: failure, flop, junk, reject, and piece of junk.

It will be interesting to know how lemon came to mean an inferior quality.

As shown here, it might have something to do with "sucking the juice out of somebody" or "bad taste left in mouth."

This seems contradictory to me since lemon is fruit with great nutritional, medicinal and culinary value. Moreover, there are so many fruits out of which you suck the juice out. And lemon taste is never bad.

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migrated from ell.stackexchange.com Aug 27 '13 at 1:52

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marked as duplicate by Hugo, kiamlaluno, Marthaª, Bravo, GEdgar Aug 27 '13 at 15:03

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Good news! This has already been answered here: Why "lemon" for a faulty or defective item? –  Hugo Aug 27 '13 at 6:33

1 Answer 1

I think the primary derivation is most likely to be connected with the British slang usage indicated at the etymonline link you've cited: "to hand someone a lemon". The image is of being given something expecting it to be sweet, and then biting into it and finding it to be very sour. You say that the taste of a lemon is never bad, but I wonder; do you really enjoy biting into lemons?

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Well, directly biting a lemon is never my favorite, compared to oranges or mangoes or strawberries, but, putting lemon juice in some food items really make them taste better. –  Masroor Aug 27 '13 at 2:36

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