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"Sour grapes" - use of

9 replies

UnquietDad · 15/02/2008 14:09

Can we agree that people use the expression "sour grapes" wrongly?

They use it as more or less a synonym for "bitterness", which misses the point of the Aesop fable from which (I've always thought) the expression comes. For me, it means saying you didn't want something when you actually did. ("Those grapes were probably sour anyway", or, the modern version, "oh well, she's probably a lesbian".)

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Kathyis6incheshigh · 15/02/2008 14:16

Can we have some examples of people using it wrongly please?

Bink · 15/02/2008 14:17

I think the connotation of bitterness is there ... It's not "well, she must be lesbian - good luck to her, perhaps I'll introduce her to that nice lass in Accounts", it's Ididn'twantheranywaySOTHERE

UnquietDad · 15/02/2008 14:18

Can't think of anything specific right now, but I've heard people saying "that's just sour grapes", when it patently isn't in the sense I understand it. (The Aesop sense.) What they mean is the equivalent of "you're just pissed off", which is not what it means at all.

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UnquietDad · 15/02/2008 14:20

Bink, you're right, and my lesbian example was a correct one. But the way some people use it doesn't get the nuance of "something you pretend not to want when you did."

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Bink · 15/02/2008 14:25

I think what you're saying is that proper sour grapes has to involve an over-acted display of nonchalance? - and if it's just ill-bred sulking, it doesn't deserve the term.

Well I agree. In a social manners sense, I don't think we see enough displays of nonchalance nowadays.

Do you like G K Chesterton? Am reading The Man Who Was Thursday, which has some nonchalant behaviour in it.

LittleWonder · 15/02/2008 14:26

Oh, you mean like you might have abandoned the 'think' thread and it was sour grapes?

finknottle · 15/02/2008 14:35

Isn't it where you want something, can't have it and consequently disparage it as a sort of coping/face-saving mechanism?
Last year at school ds1 did lots of Aesop's fables and we really had to work out each flipping word to get the exact meaning. Headache-inducing, all in German

StealthPolarBear · 15/02/2008 14:36

Yes, I do see what you mean
"he didn't get the job and now it's sour grapes" sort of thing, whereas the phrase should be used if he said something like "the job was rubbish anyway"

UnquietDad · 15/02/2008 14:36

finknottle/polarbear - yes, that's it.

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