I've been reading The Honourable Schoolboy by John Le Carré and the following extract confused me:

"Are you English?" she asked on the way. "Pips, core, the lot," Jerry snorted furiously, which was the first time he saw her smile.

Is "Pips, core, the lot" a common phrase? And what does "pips" mean anyway? My dictionary tells me it means "seeds". Would that be correct? Thanks!

  • 1
    It's not a fixed phrase. Apparently 'he' consumed an entire apple – peel, flesh, pips, core and stalk. Jul 6, 2018 at 15:58
  • @EdwinAshworth: I upticked your comment hastily, after just reading the first sentence. But clearly there's no reason to suppose Jerry actually ate a real apple at all - it's just a metaphoric reference used to emphasise how completely English he thinks he is. Jul 6, 2018 at 16:11
  • @FF Yes; the 'which was the first time he saw her smile' is obviously very idiosyncratically placed. I was assuming Jerry had to be the female from the sentence structure. Jul 6, 2018 at 16:17

2 Answers 2


pip (n.1) etymonline

"seed of an apple," 1797, shortened form of pipin "seed of a fleshy fruit" (early 14c.), from Old French pepin (13c.), probably from a root *pipp-, expressing smallness (compare Italian pippolo, Spanish pepita "seed, kernel").

He was the whole apple. In other words, he was British to the core!


It’s definitely interesting that these have been grouped together this way. It definitely seems like it wants to be apple-related. I’m curious if it is actually more of a Britishism.

“Pips” is a slang word that roughly means “easy” or “that was easy”.

“Cor” (missing the e) is another slang word that roughly means “thanks”.

Not sure how “that’s easy, thanks, the lot” is a meaningful sentence that answers the question, apart from to say that the speaker is implying that they are British by using British slang.

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