Just come across the eggs/prunes bit in a book. Is "to compare eggs with prunes" an idiomatic expression meaning "to juxtapose totally different things", or just a licencia poetica by the author?

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    It's certainly not common. – Tristan r Mar 19 '14 at 12:19
  • "compare eggs with prunes" gives no results in Google so I don't think it's an idiom. – curiousdannii Mar 19 '14 at 12:19
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    Never heard of it, the author must've made his/her own version of "to compare apples and oranges". – Vilmar Mar 19 '14 at 12:21
  • Not if I can help it … – David M Mar 19 '14 at 12:30
  • @jules, can you provide the source? Thanks. – Michael Owen Sartin Mar 19 '14 at 13:15

You are right, it is idiomatic of comparing things that cannot be compared.

Much more common though is comparing apples with oranges.

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    It's a metaphor, but if it's the authors own invention it can't be an idiom. (Not unless it catches on.) – curiousdannii Mar 19 '14 at 12:23
  • Am I right thinking the "eggs vs prunes" metaphor seems "stronger" than "apples vs oranges"? The latter are both fruit... – jules Mar 19 '14 at 12:26
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    jules, it's just weird. – Tristan r Mar 19 '14 at 12:27

Also bear in mind that eggs supposedly give you constipation whereas prunes are well known for their laxative effect. So the author is not only comparing two things that cannot be compared, s/he may be drawing attention to the opposite effects of two substances/situations. Hard to say without the full context.

  • Eggs give me gas. I don't think the gastrointestinal effect is what the author was going for . . . – David M Mar 19 '14 at 23:47
  • english.stackexchange.com/q/157557/59527 Seemed a good fit for the site. – David M Mar 19 '14 at 23:56
  • Ironic "thumbs up" ;) Actually, apples give me diarrhea, while oranges give me zilch. Work with that :) – jules Mar 20 '14 at 10:15

I wouldn't call it licencia poetica as the author hasn't changed any fact nor used improper grammar. The author has simply imagined eggs and prunes as extremes and used it as an idiom.

  • I'm pretty sure I did use the term right. – jules Mar 19 '14 at 12:47
  • I never said you didn't. Hope you didn't take it the wrong way – Novelcause Mar 19 '14 at 12:52
  • No, of course not. I actually had to refer to the origianal definition to make sure I was right. Which served me right :) – jules Mar 19 '14 at 13:13
  • Would this be a case of licencia poetica? – Novelcause Mar 19 '14 at 13:51
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    Convention lies at the heart of idiom. An idiom is a convention of language at work. The original idiom has apples vs oranges. The author replaced the fruit with other groceries, while retaining the idiom's structure. In my book, that's "alteration". Moreover, the neo-idiom is a case of rewording as the meaning is - to an extent - the same. – jules Mar 20 '14 at 11:16

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