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a rotten apple
A person whose own words or actions negatively impacts an entire group of people. Taken from the proverb "a rotten apple spoils the bunch." Before you accuse the entire department of wrongdoing, you should try to find the rotten apple that initially caused the problem.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
a single bad person or thing. There always is a rotten apple to spoil it for the rest of us. Tom sure has turned out to be the rotten apple.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
A bad individual among many good ones, especially one that spoils the group. For example, The roommates are having problems with Edith-she's the one rotten apple of the bunch. This expression is a shortening of the proverb a rotten apple spoils the barrel, coming from a 14th-century Latin proverb translated as "The rotten apple injures its neighbors." The allusion in this idiom is to the spread of mold or other diseases from one apple to the rest. In English the first recorded use was in Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack (1736).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
n. a single bad person or thing. There always is a rotten apple to spoil it for the rest of us.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.