New Yorker (November 6) carries an excerpt from legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy’s book, “Let me off at the top,” which includes the following sentence referring to his experience in Gauntlet, the anchorman training camp in Pennsylvania in his early days:

“The main goal of the Gauntlet was to test if you had the avocados for anchorman work. Could you hold your liquor? Could you tell the difference between bespoke and off-the-rack suits? Could you seduce women through a camera lens? Test after test of skills. - - - On and on for two, sometimes two and a half hours a day!”

Any English dictionary provides definition of avocado as a fruit, but none of Cambridge, Oxford and Merriam Webster includes ‘have the avocados’ as an idiom.

Then, I found the following explanation of ‘avocado’ in www.todayifoundout.com:

“The word Avocado comes from an Aztec word “ahuácatl” meaning testicle. It is thought that the reference is either due to the avocado’s shape or the fact that it was considered to possess aphrodisiac qualities by the Aztecs.”

This led me to interpret “have the avocados” as “have guts, or characteristic qualities.” Am I right?

Is “have the avocados” the common idiom that can be used in writing, and speak in public?


I checked Google Ngram Viewer. “Have balls” was current already in circ.1840 at the incidence level of 0.0000017063%. The use of the word had dwindled down to 0.0000004812% level in 1950, and then started to pick up to 0.0000016024% in 2008.

The usage of ‘have avocados” emerged around 1920, and the usage rose to 0.00000007% level in 2008, but is still low by 2 digits as compared with “have balls.”

With regard to “have the avocados” as used by Ron Burgundy, Ngram Viewer responded me “Ngrams not found [have the avocados]. The Ngram Viewer is case sensitive. Check your capitalization!”

  • 1
    You have surmised correctly. I wouldn't call it common; a similar one I hear more often is have the stones.
    – J.R.
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 7:12
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    Do you have the balls? Is much more common, albeit less exotic sounding. I had no idea about avocados, I'll do my utmost to insert the expression in conversations from now on. :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 7:49
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    you did far too much research :-) Assume anytime we talk about "having the <round objects>", the round objects are a euphemism for "testicles", and means the courage or "guts"
    – jmadsen
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 8:16
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    I think "huge pumpkins" would get the point across, although it might also be used with a woman
    – jmadsen
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 14:49
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    It should be noted that the todayifoundout link is incorrect in its etymology: ahuācatl as the name of the fruit does not come from the word for testicle, but vice versa. Just like in English, testicles can be referred to as ‘nuts’ (naming them after a fruit if sorts), so the Proto-Aztecs at some point started calling their testicles avocados. The word subsequently became the standard word for testicle, as well as for avocado. That the writer chooses this particular fruit in his version of this idiom might be coincidental, or it might be because of the word’s meaning in Nāhuatl. Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 0:39

1 Answer 1


The phrase is a humorous, off-the-cuff euphemism for testes, and thus metaphorically implying grit, determination, boldness, toughness, and other testosterone-associated qualities. The historical connection between avocados and testicles is probably not relevant (except to the extent in which the shape and texture of an avocado makes it a natural testicle substitute).

Nearly any object of the right size and shape can be called into service as a one-off testicle-euphemism, with rocks and stones being typical, and balls being so often used that they can't even be considered a euphemism any more. In regards to the original example, the fact that avocado is not in common use is deliberate --for comic effect.

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