bad apple


plural bad apples
: someone who creates problems or causes trouble for others
They'll look for telltale signs that your broker's a bad apple: too much trading … or investments that are clearly too risky for someone like you.Daniel McGinn
often, specifically : a member of a group whose behavior reflects poorly on or negatively affects or influences the remainder of the group
As in many industries, this could well be a case of a few bad apples tarnishing the reputation of the rest. Ian Giles
One bad apple in the bunch can destroy the cohesiveness of the team. Do-It-Yourself Retailing
… that individual brings down the rest of the team. This is the "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch" theory in action. Shep Hyken
Most people will be able to recall a situation where the bad mood or negative attitude of a colleague affected their workplace. As the saying goes, one bad apple spoils the whole damn bunch. Rebecca Jordan

Examples of bad apple in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The districts and associations exist to serve the homeowners, and yet a few bad apples have found ways to use the districts to line their own pockets and the pockets of their friends. The Denver Post Editorial Board, The Denver Post, 3 May 2024 Early on, says the owner, a few bad apples booked but never showed. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 19 Jan. 2024 The modern muzzleloaders proved there isn’t a bad apple in the bunch. Brad Fenson, Outdoor Life, 1 Nov. 2023 Last month, Malaysian youth used Roblox to organize a digital demonstration to support Palestinians—a sensitive issue where the smallest bad apple can potentially ruin the barrel and spark damaging headlines. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 28 Dec. 2023 Other crypto companies seem to think that picking out the one bad apple will be good for the rest of the industry. Emma Roth, The Verge, 4 Nov. 2023 To that end, China has already decided to allow certain bad apples to wind down while supporting around half-a-dozen firms that are commonly regarded as well-run with perks such as foreign currency loans to meet their offshore debt obligations and state guarantees for domestic bonds. Charlie Campbell, Time, 5 Oct. 2023 To soothe fears in the country, Kelleher has said his management team will screen Credit Suisse’s notoriously freewheeling investment bankers to ensure no bad apples make it through the ongoing integration process. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 31 Aug. 2023 This kind of online behavior turns people away from new interests, which is bad for them but worse for the group that can’t grow because of a few bad apples. oregonlive, 5 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bad apple.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1938, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bad apple was in 1938

Dictionary Entries Near bad apple

Cite this Entry

“Bad apple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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