Don’t Upset my Applecart

“I can’t believe it, after all the work it took me to finish the project on time, he has changed his mind. Now I have to redo everything. He has upset my applecart!”


No, I do not have an applecart. In fact, I do not know anyone who has an applecart these days. Maybe I could find one as a store display to tantalize someone to buy an apple or two, but what does upsetting an applecart have to do with having to start over?

When my applecart is upset, my plans are spoiled. Here I was, finished with the project that was expected of me, then he changed his mind and now I have to redo the entire project. I was planning on spending the evening with my friends and going out for a bite to eat. Now, I can’t.

He didn’t burst my bubble because my plans were more than an idea or what I thought was an idea, he wasn’t a killjoy because he didn’t know about my plans and a killjoy is one who knows about the plans someone else has and wants to ruin them, and he wasn’t a party pooper — you know the Debbie Downer of the group — because this was not a social affair where someone is showing or acting doomy and gloomy, this was a project that needed to be completed on time.

But, he ruined my plans for the evening. He didn’t know it until that moment, but he did. I was disappointed that I could not go.

Let’s go back a few thousand years — the Romans used a derivative of this idiom, saying, “I am undone. I have upset my cart.” When the cart was upset, spilled over, ruined through clumsiness or other tactics, that could have been the end of his livelihood for the day, week, month, season. He was undone. His work displayed on the cart was ruined. That was heavy duty stuff back then — could you imagine a week or month’s profits gone in a turn of a cart!

Now, fast forward to a couple of hundred years ago when farmers used carts to load up their farm produce to take to market. Along the way (usually by foot or with the aid of an animal), the cart is upset, turns over, and he has a mess to clean up. And more than likely his day has been ruined by the cart being upset, turned over.

Today, nearly anything can upset my applecart — the computer not running correctly, the car won’t start, someone has changed or ruined his plans that has upset my applecart, that has inadvertently ruined my plan. So, when you hear someone’s applecart has been upset, it’s not a physical applecart, it is a plan, it is day, it is a situation that has ruined or changed  the plans. And once I get to share a bite of food with my friends, I know they will not burst my bubble, be a killjoy or a party pooper because they will want to cheer me up after finding out that my applecart was upset.

Until Friday, have a good one…



1 Comment

Filed under idioms

One response to “Don’t Upset my Applecart

  1. Vince

    Great Topic! Aunt Mary, Yes – it could be an applecart, an orange cart, or a candy bar cart. Either Way; the lesson to be learned is _ NEVER put yourself in a situation where someone has the ability to upset your Applecart.

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