Lemons are those yellow, tart, healthy things that taste so good with ice cubes some water, sugar and your hard liquor of choice – bit not only.  the term lemon is also used to describe severely flawed products, especially cars.

A real lemon, color and all, pic: lemonlaw.org

Generally the flaws are hidden and so people who buy the product/car think they are making a good purchase just to find out later that they – well, got a lemon.  To protect consumers against lemon cars so called lemon laws exist in all states.  The definition of what constitutes a lemon is different in different states a sort of consensus definition is: A vehicle that continues to have a defect that substantially impairs its use, value, or safety. Generally, if the car has been repaired 4 or more times for the same Defect within the Warranty Period and the Defect has not been fixed, the car qualifies as a Lemon.

The phrase dates back to the 19th century when people started to describe other people were unfriendly, not cheerful or “sour” as lemons.  From there it was but a small step to refer to broken things as lemons.

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