We’ve all seen the phrase “sour grapes,” heard it spoken, or read it somewhere. “She claimed she didn’t want the job anyway, but her friends called sour grapes.” “She wouldn’t go out with him, but he said she wasn’t that smart anyway. I call sour grapes!” “He didn’t win the award, but he claims it’s not very prestigious. Sour grapes much?” Sour grapes is the expression we use when someone puts something down in a negative way or makes it out to be unimportant solely because it is unattainable to them. Oftentimes the term is used to signify resentment.
But where did the term sour grapes originally come from?
The phrase originated in Aesop’s Fables, in a story called “The Fox and the Grapes.” A fox sees a juicy bunch of grapes hanging from a trellised vine and yearns to have them. After several failed attempts to reach the grapes, the fox realizes he’ll never get them, and walks away. In an attempt to save his reputation and cure his smarting ego, the fox says the grapes were sour anyway, so he never really wanted them.
The term has seen significant popularity in pop culture, lending itself to the names of multiple hit songs, a 1998 film by Larry David, and, most recently, the documentary showcasing Rudy Kurniawan’s counterfeit wine scandal on Netflix.