Meaning Of ‘An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away’
The phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ means that eating an apple (or fruits or vegetables in general, basically, foods that are good for you) can improve one’s health and thus keep the doctor away.
If a person eats right and they are healthy, they won’t have the need to go to the doctor as often as someone who is unhealthy.
Example: Ashley has been getting sick a lot lately, but her friend hardly ever gets sick. So she asked her friend: “You seem to be healthy a lot of the time, how do you do it?”
“Well, Ash, as the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables during the week, so maybe including more of those in your diet would help.”
The Origin Of ‘An Apple a Day Keeps The Doctor Away’
The origin of this saying is believed to be from Wales, a country in Great Britain. There is an earlier form of this expression that goes: “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” The first known appearance of this earlier form is from a publication known as Notes and Queries from the year 1866:
“Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”
The later version (an apple a day keeps the doctor away) that’s commonly used today looks like it took hold sometime during the early 20th century. I say this because that’s the earliest I could find it in print. For example, the later version appears in The Country Gentleman, 1913:
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
So then, this phrase is at least 153 years old.
Does An Apple a Day Really Keep The Doctor Away?
This phrase is a common one, and when some people hear it, they may wonder: Would eating an apple a day really keep the doctor away forever? Well, obviously not. Eating an apple every day can certainly have health benefits (this fruit has dietary fiber, for one, which aids the digestive process), but even if you’re as fit as a fiddle and you eat healthy, you can still get sick. Indeed, an apple every day will not make a person immune to sickness.
Basically, the phrase is not meant to be taken literally. The idea this proverb is conveying is that eating healthier can help to keep the doctor away.