There is a French idiom, which translated word-for-word is

Let's cut the apple in two

It means both parties will benefit from 50% of the requested initial negotiated deal.

Can this idiom be also used in English with the same meaning:

‘Let's cut (split) the apple in half’ ?

  • 6
    This is not an established English figure, though if you used it you would probably be understood. The English figure that springs to my mind is "Let's split the difference". Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 19:42
  • 15
    The French idiom is Coupons la poire en deux. The translation of "poire" is "pear" (not "apple")!
    – Graffito
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 20:10
  • 1
    "Splitting the difference" is a different scenario than the one described in the question. Parties on opposite sides of a negotiation "split the difference" (from their previous offers). As the question states it, "cutting the apple in two" refers to parties on the same side of an action splitting a benefit.
    – David
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 0:17
  • @David: regardless, it appears that "split the difference" is actually the meaning of couper la poire en deux in French: forum.wordreference.com/threads/couper-la-poire-en-deux.268849, linguee.fr/francais-anglais/traduction/…
    – herisson
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 0:52
  • The French expression involves cutting not an apple, but a pear.
    – user157969
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 4:45

7 Answers 7


In England we sometimes use a similar idiom: meet me in the middle, or meet me halfway, or, equivalently, let's split the difference.

They all mean the same, that is, when two parties are negotiating and one wants to sell high and the other buy low, they can agree on a compromise price that's halfway between each of their offers.

The Free Dictionary lists these phrases: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/meet+halfway

  • 3
    Also "find a middle ground".
    – Graffito
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 20:16
  • I daresay we have all these idioms in the US as well. Never thought of them as anything localized beyond English. Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 20:06

There's an idiom

Divide 50-50

To divide something into two equal parts. (The fifty means 50 percent.)

  • Tommy and Billy divided the candy fifty-fifty.
  • The robbers split the money fifty-fifty.

You could consider saying, "Let's go halves on something". To go halves means:

to share the whole amount (of something with another person): 'to go halves on an orange'

Note: You should not use "go half on something". It doesn't have the same meaning.

You could also consider using "Let's go (or split something) half and half". Half and half means:

(adv) in two equal parts

"Let's go half and half" is more broadly used when you suggest two parties split the bill or expenses, e.g., restaurant, bar and taxi fare, etc.

[Collins Online Dictionary]

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    Also, "go halfsies". While this is something children say, adults (well, me) use it too. Never go halfsies on dessert!
    – Engineer
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 6:20

even steven

Fair; even; equitable

More detail on origin

a fair distribution of resources, a mutually beneficial trade ...


Meet me in the middle, meet me halfway, or, equivalently, let's split the difference all mean the same as each other that is, when two parties are negotiating and one wants to sell high and the other buy low, they can agree on a compromise price that's halfway between each of their offers, but they are different than the meaning of the French idiom. (Yes, this intro text is derived from Charon's answer). Citation linked in Charon's post, ... need 10 rep before I can post more than 2 links it seems.

Splitting the difference is when negotiating the seller proposes a price of 10, the buyer proposes 5, and they agree to 7.5. It is a situation of compromise. The French idiom is when a seller offers to collaborate on something with another seller and the profits are split. They work together, make something that costs 6, sell it for 10, and each keep 2. It's the kind of deal you will never get with a record company even if they do split the difference, e.g. you ask for 60% of revenue, they offer 4% to you, eventually you split the difference and get a contract awarding you 6% of the revenue. That's not a typo, splitting the difference is a little different than meeting halfway or in the middle, it's not necessarily implied that the split is even, if it were you would get 36%, which is still a far cry from the 50% that the OP says the French idiom implies.

The key idea I think though is that the phrase represents a mutually beneficial offer of cooperation rather than a case where the sides are penny pinching, so I might even say that, "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine," hits closer to the mark (though still not perfect at all). http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/I'll+scratch+your+back+if+you+scratch+mine

Sharing the spoils also comes to mind. A common idiom in the US at least is, "going Dutch," which has a derivative, "sharing Dutch," they do fail to capture the 50-50 nature of the split though. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Going_Dutch It's not exactly an idiom.. but in English I think saying, "we'll split the profits 50-50," would be most common when offering that arrangement.

Footnote: I felt compelled to answer because I saw that the answer with many votes in the lead at the time was absolutely not the same meaning and some answers with many fewer votes were much closer, e.g. divide 50-50 and even Steven.


You can split apples in half, and both sides will be happy (unless they planned to eat the apple later). Sometimes both sides are unhappy with the outcome of splitting, or if you just want a funnier or more visceral version of split the different you can split the baby

Definition (from a site dedicated to mediation):

‘Splitting the Baby’ – Thomas Crowley states that because of the relaxation of rules of evidence in arbitration, and the power of the arbitrator to ‘do equity’ (make decisions based on fairness), the arbitrator may render an award that, rather than granting complete relief to one side, splits the baby by giving each side part of what they requested.

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    'Split the baby' may have a slightly different context. In the Bible book of Kings two women disputed being the mother of the same baby. The baby was brought before King Solomon when he ordered it 'split in two.' The idea of a split baby horrified the real mother so the baby was awarded to the real mother. The 'split baby' may imply a 3rd party arbitrator in the mix. Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 23:44

Consider, cut a halfway deal

cut a deal: Offer or arrange an agreement or compromise. This expression uses deal in the sense of "business transaction." [Colloquial; 1970s] The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer

At least for now, President Reagan is shunning West Europe's advice that he cut a halfway deal with the Soviet Union to reduce the nuclear threat. Ludington Daily News

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