Posted On: July 29, 2007 by Kevin Le

Why are bad cars called lemons?

Lemons are healthy fruits, rich in vitamin C and other nutrients, used in a myriad of wonderful products, from lemonade and lemon meringue pie to cleaning agents. So, why do we call bad cars lemons?

The Online Etymology Dictionary indicates that there are several possible origins for ‘lemon’ being used to refer to an inferior product. One possibility is that it came from early 20th century American slang, where a ‘lemon’ referred to "a person who is a loser, a simpleton," as a lemon. Another possibility is that the term originated from British pool hall slang, where a ‘lemon game’ was a game played by a hustler. It seems most likely that that the use of a ‘lemon’ as a bad car came from another British slang term from the early 1900’s in which “to hand someone a lemon” was "to pass off a sub-standard article as a good one." (Online Etymology Dictionary).

849276_fresh_lemons_188.jpg

Regardless of the where they came from, the terms ‘lemon’ and ‘lemon laws’ are now common in our modern vocabulary, and codified in our laws. In the context of and vehicles, most everyone agrees that buying a lemon new car, does leave one with a sour feeling.