A lemon can be both sour and sweet. People often know that the lemon law is for defective cars, but many people do not know why is it called the Lemon Law and what it has to do with lemons?
- The lemon law can be called the lemon law because the British referred to products of substandard quality as lemons. The United States copied them and began using the word in the year 1909 and began applying the term in reference to defective vehicles by the year 1960.
That is a good answer, but it still does not really give the full story of why it is called the lemon law. What’s the beef with lemons and why do they get this negative connotation?
Lemons are healthy fruits with a lot of nutritional value, vitamin C, and they are yummy and delicious. So why do we compare defective cars to lemons? After all, why is it not called the Watermelon law or the Banana law or the Pineapple law or the Mango law? You get the point. These are all fruits that I love.
One view however is that generally lemons are yummy when mixed into food, soup, sugar, etc. However, on their own, lemons can be unpleasantly sour and have tick tough skin sometimes with ugly spots and blemishes as well.
Why its called lemon law compared to society’s views on Apples.
Take a minute to compare “apples to oranges” or more specifically apples to lemons.
An apple is generally referred to and viewed as a good positive happy thing by society. Such as “apple bottom”, “the Big Apple” as reference to New York, or “Apple Computers.” Apples are seen as a very good thing and have a positive connotation in society.
One reason for that might be that unlike a lemon, an apple is generally rounder and shiny and has a sweet and yummy taste that you can bite right into without even taking the skin off.
Apples are referred to of things expressing intelligence and love and health and prosperity.
Consider the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” compared to a lemon a day does not keep a lawyer away. As a lemon law attorney I can promise you that haha.
On the same vibe think about what it means to give your teacher an apple expressing that he or she is your favorite professor.
I personally believe that you cannot judge a fruit by its cover. I always had a lot of love for lemons growing up I enjoyed the taste and they have a lot of health benefits.
On the other hand apples sometimes have too much sugar which can cause me to get fat and even electronics like “Apple Computers” and devices can qualify under the lemon law sometimes due to being defects.
Possibilities of why it is called the “Lemon Law”
To get a real answer to this question we need to go way back in time to the past. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary a few of the possibilities of where the term came from can include:
One possibility is that the origin of the lemon law phrase had it starting roots from 20th century American slang phrase referring to “a person who is a loser, a simpleton” as a lemon.
A comparable slang synonym like that would be the word “Dope” when referring to a stupid person.
- Example would be “Don’t listen to him he doesn’t know what he is talking about he is such a dope!”
Another popular phrase that gives insight into why it is called lemon is that there is a common popular phrase of someone saying popular British phrase.
- “Why is he standing there like a lemon?”
Interesting Historical Reasons of Why It is Called Lemon Law
Several of the top historical references and reasons why its referred to as the lemon law include:
Historical British English criminal slang originating from the streets and random people referring to “a person who is a loser, a simpleton,” reasons for this slang include:
- Maybe referring to the fact that the fruit is yellow and just a small and simple looking fruit as compared to a pineapple or watermelon etc.
- Also the fact that a lemon is a fruit that you commonly “suck the juice out of.” This has criminal slang connotation of taking advantage of something or someone.
- The phrase can also be due to the fact that defective vehicles “leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth” or they are sour in nature instead of being sweet.
Criminal slang “Suck the juice out of” can be why it is called lemon law
In fact, a billiards hustle where a really good billiards player takes advantage of someone that’s not well prepared or does not properly size up his competition was called a “lemon game” according to American Etymology dictionary (1909).
In that same context, there was a phrase of “handing off someone a lemon” in a criminal slang type of context where a simpleton was sold a product of substandard quality. (1906).
Also a “pip” is a common slang phrase referring to a “real character, sometimes a pain in the ass.”
- In relation to that word there is a common slang phrase of “to squeeze (someone) until the pips squeak.” This probably has to do with putting a lot of pressure on someone until they speak.
It kind of reminds me of a deposition or discovery procedure that might occur in a lemon law case. It is kind of like squeezing a lemon in order to get the juice out of it.
Sometimes automobile manufacturers know that their vehicle is a lemon or is defective but sell it anyway, and by exerting pressure on them through legal means, you may be able to learn or legally squeeze that type of information out. Again, it is also referring to the lemon as a stupid person.
It’s Called Lemon Law When “The Answer’s A Lemon”?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there was also a common phrase of “the answer’s a lemon” referring to an unsatisfactory answer or response dating back all the way to 1909.
In a lemon law claim, the automobile manufacturer must repair or replace the vehicle with a reasonable number of repair attempts. However, many times, all they respond with is an unsatisfactory response.
In these situations, we know “the answer’s a lemon” and an unsatisfactory answer because the vehicle is still having problems and they are failing to properly address or answer the issue.
Which can be related to the common phrase “the answers a lemon” in British slang etymology.
Called lemon law because a lemon is the least valuable symbol that can be achieved by playing a “fruit machine”?
Some people build relationships with games such as slot machines and they believe that they might be able to predict or properly anticipate the results of the game. They believe that the machine might have a mind of its own and be thinking for itself and that they can develop a relationship with the machine.
These slot machines and games have pictures of them and sometimes the pictures are of fruits, including lemons. There are certain values associated with each type of symbol if you get three in a row for example. In these games, the lemon was the least valuable of the symbols you could get.
Getting three lemons in a row reminds me of how a legal lemon law case typically works when you get three lemon law defect repairs in a row. That is one popular way in which your car can be deemed a lemon, although even one repair visit can be enough sometimes if the repair lasts 30 days or longer or in other situations.