Bowl of cherries

Discussion in 'English Only' started by NHHL, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. NHHL Senior Member

    - I have a good job, a beautiful girlfriend, two wonderful best friends and a mansion on a hill. Life is just a bowl of cherries.

    - I found the idiom "life is just a bowl of cherries" from a website but I don't know how to use it correctly. Can I use it in the context above?

    Thanks very much,

  2. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    I think you can use it as you have -- and either with or without "just." Keep in mind that the expression isn't used so much anymore. There aren't that many results on Google News, for instance: bowl of cherries.
  3. Embonpoint Senior Member

    It is a fine expression but to my ear more used sarcastically these days at least. I lost my job, discovered I have cancer and my house burned down. Yeah, life is a bowl of cherries.
  4. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    :warn: :) I DO have cancer and cannot work anymore, and I managed to set fire to my kitchen in the recent past, though luckly the whole house was not burned down! I kid you not!

    In that context, my partner has a photograph on her phone which she uses as a screen saver. It is a photo of a real bowl of cherries with a hand written sign with the word LIFE written on it .. propped up in the fruit. It makes us smile, but I doubt that this is the standard use of the phrase, we almost turn it around from the sarcasm that Embonpoint suggests and make it feel positive again!
  5. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Wow, Suzi!

    What I am trying to say is that the original poster's sentence is perfect English but culturally I cannot ever imagine a native speaker writing it. The most famous use of this expression in my lifetime is the title of Erma Bombeck's bestseller: If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?
  6. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    Sure, I agree it is usually used ironically or sarcastically, but I just had to laugh that I am, actually, a good fit for your calamatous life sketch!
  7. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    I am much more familiar with the expression a bed of roses than with a bowl of cherries.
  8. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    It doesn't mean "Life is great". It means "don't like life so seriously; it's nothing more than a bowl of cherries." It's a strange saying, actually. From what I've just read, George Gershwin made it popular in 1919 in a musical with the song "Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries" although other sources attribute to Ray Henderson. (It doesn't sound like Gershwin to me.)

    As others have said, it's not used much anymore. If you were to use it, it would more likely be a reply to someone whose expectations had been dashed or who was worrying too much about something.

    Alex: "I spent two weeks preparing for this job interview and then I blew it in the first five minutes. I'll never get another chance like this."

    Brad: "Relax, Alex. It's just a job. Another one will come along. Life is just a bowl of cherries. You've got to learn to roll with the punches."
  9. WyomingSue

    WyomingSue Senior Member

    Cheyenne, WY
    It is common enough that it has generated the phrase "life is just a chair of bowlies", swapping the first syllables (put "chair of bowlies" in google image).

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