So next time you pop a blueberry, don’t forget to thank Fred.

How to understand "pop" in this sentence? Does it mean "eat" or "have"? I look up into the dictionary, I cannot even find a reasonable explanation for it.

Edit: According to the answers, I should have added the context of the sentence. Actually it is from the transcript of a podcast.

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    Very simple - it's just a play on the common phrase "Pop a pill"... – Fattie Jun 18 '11 at 22:09

In the context of this sentence, 'pop' is used in the meaning of place with a sudden movement to the mouth. It would not be exactly eat, but rather toss into the mouth.

The sentence could be a truncated form of So next time you pop a blueberry (into your mouth), don’t forget to thank Fred.

Please search for 'mouth' in this page.

  • @rest -- Rest, this is wrong! It's not short for "pop in to your mouth." Rather, there is an idiom "pop a pill." Now, you can use that idiom, with things other than pills, in a rather slangy/witty way. That's what's going on here. – Fattie Jun 18 '11 at 22:04
  • Even Merriam Webster uses pop in this sense merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pop – rest_day Jun 18 '11 at 22:23
  • @rest -- Hi rest! You do correctly understand what "pop" means. Note that in the idiom I have told you about ("pop a pill"), the word pop means, exactly, what you are saying. (In other words, "pop a pill" indeed means "pop a pill into your mouth." Makes sense?) "Pop a pill" is a figure of speech in English. I can assure you that in the sentence above, "pop a blueberry" is a spin on the common figure of speech "pop a pill". It is very obvious and straightforward to any native English speaker. It's why Cerberus answer has four votes! :) – Fattie Jun 18 '11 at 22:28
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    @Joe 'Pop a pill' could be a recent idiom and the sentence in the question could be a spin of that, but is my answer wrong? Pop has been used a lot earlier to mean toss something in to the mouth as can be seen from this 1869 book. bit.ly/iimBre . Do you think it is more of a chicken and egg situation? – rest_day Jun 18 '11 at 22:41
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    @rest, not really. Ask some native speakers. (Particularly Californian!) It's very straightforward. Notice your book reference: "mouth...pop a grape in to it". It's a full sentence involving 'mouth' and 'in to'. It has nothing to do with the form "pop a X." "Pop a X" is a common idiom, being a spin on the common phrase "pop a pill." It is even used by extension with things (actions, events) you don't literally eat. A "cougar girl" might "go pop a frat boy." "pop a squat" (use latrine) is a vulgar camping term. You see? – Fattie Jun 18 '11 at 23:08

The normal expression is to pop a pill, which means to take a pill, i.e. swallow it. It probably means eat a blueberry in this context. [Edited:] But this verb sounds a bit odd with anything other than drugs: it is probably some sort of associative wordplay.

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    The problem is, the pill connotation has pretty much come to own the meaning of pop when the verb is used without any additional qualification. Nobody would say "I'm going to pop some blueberries," because people would think "blueberries" was a slang term for some kind of drug. – Robusto Jun 18 '11 at 20:51
  • @Robusto: Agreed. I've added something about wordplay (what else could it be?). – Cerberus Jun 18 '11 at 20:56
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    @Robusto - Hi Robusto, not at all, you use that idiom - in a comic way - with objects other than pills - particularly with things that are "not pill like," then it is funny. I hear this frequently. I heard "Ah well, I'll go pop a test drive..." - test driving a sports car is like a drug, adding another twist I guess. "Pop a test drive" is a straightforward play on "Pop a pill" -- just like in the example at hand. – Fattie Jun 18 '11 at 22:08
  • @Joe Blow: That's clearly not the context here. It's not a "pop a wheelie" usage either. – Robusto Jun 18 '11 at 23:32
  • @Robusto ... Hi Robusto. what's not the context? (I don't follow you.) As I said, if it's something that is "not pill like" (not a drug) it's particularly funny. A healthy natural blueberry is not like lithium or zantax, so sure it scans and is funny. It's strange you haven't heard this, as a native US'er. (I just googled up, as a random example 'pop a cookie' - exactly the same as 'pop a blueberry'. Simply a funny take on 'pop a pill'. Again strange you haven't heard this!!) – Fattie Jun 18 '11 at 23:37

There are two well-established meanings of pop that this is quite close to. Quoting the OED:

colloq. (chiefly N. Amer.). To open or release with a popping sound; spec. to open (a can of drink) with a pop by pulling the tab or ring pull. “Settled now on a sofa in the youth center, popping cans of Busch Bavarian.” — 1976, National Observer (U.S.), 10 Apr. 18/2.

slang. To take (a drug or pill); spec. to swallow or inject (a narcotic drug); to inject (a vein) with a drug. “For him the day‥started when he swallowed the first pill or popped the first vein.” — 1968, M. Woodhouse Rock Baby, ii. 109

They have different origins. Popping a beer came from the sense of making a popping noise, while popping a pill came from inserting it into one’s mouth — both of these being much older usages of pop. But, as in your example, they seem to have recently been converging/generalising somewhat into a single sense: to consume something (especially something that comes in small discrete units, and hence is comparable to pills or cans of drink).

The clearest aspect of this shift is that to pop a beer (or a soda) now often means to drink it, not just to open it. But as your example and others show (google eg "pop a cookie"), at least some of the time, it can extend to other things as well.


Is there any more context to the sentence? Absent that, it can mean either to pop the berry by squeezing it till it bursts, or to toss it casually into your mouth.

Still, it sounds odd to say "pop a blueberry" all by itself, without reference to one's mouth.

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