bad apple

noun

Definition of bad apple

: someone who creates problems or causes trouble for others specifically : a member of a group whose behavior reflects poorly on or negatively affects or influences the remainder of the group The best way to deal with bad apples is to take them out of the group as quickly as possible. — Henry L. Tischler, Introduction to Sociology, 2011

called also rotten apple

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

First Known Use of bad apple

1887, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About bad apple

Time Traveler for bad apple

Time Traveler

The first known use of bad apple was in 1887

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near bad apple

badan

bad apple

Badarian

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for bad apple

Cite this Entry

“Bad apple.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bad%20apple. Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!