"Tomayto-tomahto" /təˈmeɪ.t̬oʊ - təˈmɑː.təʊ/ is a spoken idiom playing on the different US and UK pronuncation of the word "tomato", used to express when two seemingly different descriptions in fact refer to the same thing.

I'm looking for an idiom for this case that works well in writing too, instead of relying on pronunciation. As the cited idiom inherently works only in spoken language, written versions of it feel somewhat dull and far-fetched. How to write it down was already discussed in two questions, here in Correct, clear, concise way to use “potato-potato” in writing, and on ELL in Expressing potayto-potahto, tomayto-tomahto correctly in writing, but these ask how to represent this exact idiom in writing, not for an alternative.

So, is there any?

  • A rose is a rose is a rose.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 23, 2021 at 17:57
  • Swings and roundabouts?
    – Lawrence
    Apr 23, 2021 at 18:34
  • 1
    "Tomayto," "tomahto" works well in writing. It's used all the time in writing. But another one is "six of one, half a dozen of the other." Seeing as someone's already put it, I'm just leaving a comment and giving their answer an up arrow. My point is, you are discounting "tomayto, tomahto" as not working in writing when you shouldn't be. Apr 23, 2021 at 21:32
  • Noel Coward said "You say potato and I say potato, you say tomato and I say tomato. I really don't see the problem here."
    – BoldBen
    Apr 24, 2021 at 8:21

3 Answers 3


It's six of one and half a dozen of the other works in both written and spoken English without modification. Wiktionary:

(idiomatic) The two alternatives are equivalent or indifferent; it doesn't matter which one we choose.


It's just a matter of semantics.

From an earlier thread: [If we consider the way in which the word 'semantics' must be interpreted in the fixed expression 'It's just a matter of / merely semantics']

  • ... ['Semantics' in this sense may be seen] as being about very fine distinctions, such as: I think it's just a matter of semantics, not so much a difference per se.

  • Another interpretation seems to be that 'semantics' is the difference between two ways of saying the same thing.

Essentially, just a situation (often an argument) where the terminology, the precise meaning of words used by different parties, is different, when essentially the same thing is being said in different ways. Examples include:

  • But this is largely an argument of semantics. [Wired]

  • Some of that is simple semantics, but other concerns are harder to dismiss. [The Verge]

  • In other words, this vaunted farewell is more or less a story of semantics. [Slate Magazine]

[Cambridge Dictionary]

The expression seems too transparent to consider it a non-analysable idiom, not venturing to define the sense of 'semantics' involved.

  • 1
    Thanks! It works, but it's not really an idiom is it? Using it instead of the spoken idiom doesn't reflect the original colorfulness of the spoken style. (Downvote is not mine, it's still a valid answer, just not that asweome.)
    – Neinstein
    Apr 23, 2021 at 16:13
  • 2
    It's a fixed expression. Admittedly not a punchy, quirky recent coinage. Apr 23, 2021 at 16:16

Another idiom that could be used is two peas in a pod. Lexico has:

So similar as to be indistinguishable or nearly so.
‘they were two peas in a pod, both with the same high cheekbones and hairline’

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