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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2008-07-21 13:13:39

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2601

sore grapes << sour grapes

Apparently the expression “sore grapes” has not been noted in this forum.

The image behind “sour grapes” is, of course, the disgruntled fox in Aesop’s fable who dissed what he could not delect. The passing of Aesop’s tales from the collective consciousness of the English speaking community has stranded many of his best word pictures. “Sore grapes,” though it preserves the thrust of the idiom, renders it in fuzzy black and white, losing the color and crunch of the original story.

“Sore,” says the OED, can be used of persons who are “inclined to be irritated or grieved,” or who are “irritable, sensitive; angry, resentful.” The idiom “sore loser,” known to most speakers of English, carries the sense of “resentful loser.” Possibly “sore grapes” is an idiom blend between “sore loser” and “sour grapes.”

Some examples from the 140 ughits on the web:

Forum on Irish ice hockey: “We should be saying congrats to these guys instead of sounding like sore grapes!!” (

South African’s post to a sports forum: “I believe Michael Schumacher were unfairly demoted to last place in Monaco. Was it sore grapes from the other competors or what?” (

Post on an architecture forum: “The belittling of international ‘starchitects’ on this board strikes me as little more than sore grapes.” ( … 301&page=5)

When I was looking at the web examples I noticed that the someone had filed an observation of “sore grapes” on the linguistlist listserv ( … s-l&P=4723

Last edited by kem (2008-07-21 18:12:09)

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2008-07-21 15:06:33

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2154

Re: sore grapes << sour grapes


Two related favorites of mine:

Don’t cry over sour grapes!

She’s had a lot of sour grapes happen to her over the years.

“crying over sour milk” (also well-attested) is a reasonable half-step from “spilt milk” to “sour grapes”. Naturally, “split milk” occurs too…

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-07-21 15:22:27)

*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)



#3 2008-07-23 12:55:43

Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: sore grapes << sour grapes

Chad Nilep said:

snub your nose
Not that there is a clear line between the two categories [eggcorn and idiom blend]. … hp?id=2838

I think sore grapes is an excellent illustration of an idiom blend that is also an eggcorn. As kem suggests, sore can mean “inclined to be irritated or grieved.” Sore grapes is an eggcorn of sour grapes, likely produced by those who don’t know the Aesop fable of the fox and the grapes.

Both the word sore and the allusion to the fox who called the grapes sour indicate grievance and irritation, and sore grapes blends the two. At the same time, the loss of transparent etymology (due to ignorance of Aesop) and the shift in semantic imagery (from undesirable flavor – or perhaps more accurately feigning lack of desire – to irritation and grievance) make this an eggcorn.

Nice find.



#4 2017-04-01 11:07:40

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1562

Re: sore grapes << sour grapes

Meet ya on the flip-flop. 93 raw hits today.

Can you tell that’s a bit of a sour point with me?



#5 2017-04-01 17:24:00

Dixon Wragg
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1277

Re: sore grapes << sour grapes

The Urban dictionary gives a definition for “sourhead” that’s essentially the definition of what most of us would call a sorehead. I looked up a few examples online. In some cases the image of sourness gets elaborated, as with the lemonade reference below.

“Ohh, these haters got a sour head look upon their face / Lemonade, lemonade, lemonade, lemonade”.
song lyric

Hahahaha are you some sour head that i have ripped apart in the past ?
comment thread

“If you take a loss as a loss, you’re not gaining anything from it. Just a sour head. To take a loss and learn from how you lost, then it’s a teaching moment.”
athlete’s philosophy

I’m inclined to see eggcornicity in “sour” for “sore” in some of these cases. I assume there are a number of “sour” for “sore” variations, some of which may be eggcorns. Here’s another variation:

Because of this little differences in heigth you use the same muscles all the time, what gives you sour feet and legs.
account of hiking

They are ideal to massage sour feet after a long day.
product description

It was very dry and hard on their feet. On the way down we realised that Chika and Gaia had some problems and they had really sour feet, almost with no skin left.
mountain journal

Here’s a variation in the opposite direction, “sore expression” for “sour expression”:

Baby Sore Expression
YouTube video title

I look JUST like Posh. Short black dress, loads of boobs, sore expression.
celebrity silliness

He remembered Donghyuck mentioning it once with a sore expression, disliking the fact that his brother was leaving.

The Urban Dictionary has the relationship between “sore loser” and “sour loser” amusingly ass-backwards (Google Ngram couldn’t even find an example of “sour loser”):

sour loser
The origin of the word “sore loser”. This much makes more sense than using the phrase with a “sore” in it. Sour comes from the phrase, “Sour grape”. A big misconception of that figure of speech.
the Urban Dictionary



#6 2017-04-08 19:42:22

Dixon Wragg
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1277

Re: sore grapes << sour grapes

DavidTuggy wrote:

“crying over sour milk” (also well-attested) is a reasonable half-step from “spilt milk” to “sour grapes”. Naturally, “split milk” occurs too…

The vegan community has added another non-dairy option to the ever-growing list: a grain-derived potable known as spelt milk.



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