to take fruit in something

For example:

I take fruit in my life.

I feel like I have heard this term used before, but because I couldn't find an example with Google, I wanted to check whether this makes sense to other people or whether I’m just conjuring this out of my own brain.

The intended meaning here would be “to enjoy”; is this acceptable and correct?

  • 2
    No, it's not at all idiomatically acceptable (that's why you couldn't find any examples with Google). It's General Reference that fruit means something significantly different to pleasure. Aug 4 '13 at 4:35
  • The only similar-sounding phrase I know—but which means something else entirely—is fruit in-take, which means the amount of fruit you eat within a given period. To take in food = to eat food. Aug 4 '13 at 4:50
  • @Cerberus yeah, it is not the meaning I am going for, of course. I feel like I have certainly heard this phrase before, but I can't find it being used somewhere else.
    – Mark Lalor
    Aug 4 '13 at 7:36
  • 1
    @Mark: The only relation to enjoyment I can think of is Latin, where fruor means "enjoy": fruitur vita would be "he enjoys life". Aug 4 '13 at 15:20
  • Also, fruition.
    – user28567
    Aug 5 '13 at 0:25

Well, the in sounds funny: “taking fruit in something” sounds like an off-kilter calque, or a mis-recollection, where fruit is standing in for pleasure or enjoyment or advantage. But taking the fruit(s) of something (as opposed to in something) to mean enjoying it has a long history. So if that is what you really meant, it would have been possible.


Given that change, yes, it can mean that — or at least, once could do so. In the second scene of Act II of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we find those words in the laconic mouth of Polonius, who said:

I would fain prove so. But what might you think,
When I had seen this hot love on the wing—
As I perceived it, I must tell you that,
Before my daughter told me—what might you,
Or my dear majesty your queen here, think,
If I had played the desk or table-book,
Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb,
Or looked upon this love with idle sight?
What might you think? No, I went round to work,
And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
“Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy star.
This must not be.” And then I prescripts gave her,
That she should lock herself from his resort,
Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;
And he, repelled—a short tale to make—
Fell into a sadness, then into a fast,
Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension,
Into the madness wherein now he raves
And all we mourn for.

This is covered in the Oxford English Dictionary entry for the noun fruit, where it gives this sense:

7c. Advantage, benefit, enjoyment, profit.

It gives two sets of provided citations, one set marked alpha and the other beta. The alpha set are these:

  • C. 1230 Hali Meid. 7 — Þus hauen godes freond al þe fruit of þis world þat ha forsaken habbeð.
  • 1484 Caxton Curiall 3 — Thou shalt haue labour wythoute fruyt and shalt vse thy lyf in perylle.
  • 1559 Mirr. Mag., Worcester v, — The fruite Of reading stories, standeth in the * suite.
  • 1588 J. Udall Diotrephes (Arb.) 17 — You shold preach foure times euery weeke, with more fruit than you can doe now foure times euery yeere.
  • 1602 Shaks. Ham. ɪɪ. ii. 145 — She tooke the Fruites of my Aduice.
  • 1630 R. Johnson’s Kingd. & Commw. 384 — The greatest fruit which the Emperour reapeth by the Crowne of Hungarland, ariseth by the benefit of Mines.
  • 1698 J. Howe in H. Rogers Life x. (1863) 219, — I read thy lines with fruit and delight.
  • 1858 F. Hall in Jrnl. Amer. Orient. Soc. (1862) VII. 31 — Whosesoever..at any time, has been the soil, his, at that time, has been the fruit of even the previous bestowment thereof.

And the beta set is just this one:

  • 1500–20 Dunbar Poems xxiv. 22 — Off warldis gud and grit richess, Quhat fruct hes man but miriness?

Roman Law: usufruit

Related to all this is the concept of usufruct(us) from Roman Law, which we once upon a time indeed spelled usufruit and which per the OED is a noun meaning:

1. Law. The right of temporary possession, use, or enjoyment of the advantages of property belonging to another, so far as may be had without causing damage or prejudice to this. Also transf.

2. gen. Use, enjoyment, or profitable possession (of something).

With 19th century citations that include:

  • 1868 Browning Ring & Bk. ii. 211 — He owned some usufruct, had moneys’ use Lifelong.

  • fig. 1863 Patmore Angel in Ho. i. ii. ii, — Could eternal life afford That tyranny should thus deduct From this fair land..A year of the sweet usufruct.

  • 1863 Kinglake Crimea I. 41 — Which of the rival Churches should have the control and usufruct of every holy shrine.

There are derivatives of the word, too, like usufruction.

Spanish: disfrutar de

But back to enjoying the fruits of the land and all that business.

Certainly though to take the fruits of something is hardly a common contemporary expression — in contemporary 21st-century English, that is. In other languages, it retains currency.

For example, in Spanish it is perfectly normal to use the verb disfrutar de una cosa as meaning to make favorable use of something, to enjoy or take pleasure in it. An example of this can be found in the recent news headline in La Razón reads:

Snowden disfruta de su primer día de libertad fuera de Sheremétievo

Which says that

Snowden enjoys his first day of freedom outside of [the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow]

In Summary

So it is possible that you with taking the fruits of things, you are either remembering an older, more prosaic usage such as the one from Shakespeare, or that you unconsciously calquing the phrase from another language into English.

It doesn’t seem to have much contemporary currency in English, but I can surely see where you might have gotten it from.

  • 1
    Very interesting. Even though I only take spanish in high school, I did think about how the verb disfrutar exists before posting this, and how I have used it in the form disfrutar de before. As I haven't actually read through Hamlet, or much other literature like it, this is probably what planted the idea in my head, even if I didn't realize it until now.
    – Mark Lalor
    Aug 5 '13 at 17:37
  • Also, this is for a poem. So current, correct English is not of my concern :-)
    – Mark Lalor
    Aug 6 '13 at 1:04
  • @MarkLalor, if you use that in a poem, it will sound exactly as if: you misheard the common phrase "the fruits of my labour" and used it incorrectly.
    – Fattie
    Mar 16 '16 at 14:53

I don't believe that this is a common idiom. One can take pleasure in one's life, but one cannot take fruit. A more common use of fruit is in the word "fruitful" - finding something fruitful is to believe something is producing good results.


Absolutely not. You're confusing it with another phrase:

Mark, it's common in English to talk of..

"The fruits of my labour."

This simply means the "results of" your labour.

It's further very common to say "I can finally enjoy the fruits of my labour." Meaning, after hard work, you can finally enjoy the results of the effort.

You say,

"... I feel like I have heard this term used before..."

what you have heard is

"At last I get to enjoy the fruits of my labour."

It's perfectly obvious that, as you say "... I feel like I have heard this term used before...", that is the phrase you are thinking of.

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