to buy a lemon

Click below to listen to the phrase.


Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) to get a new haircut

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b) to believe a lie

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c) to buy something useless or defective

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If you buy a lemon it means you buy a thing that never works properly, and gives you problem constantly. Very often a “lemon” refers to a car that causes more trouble that it is worth.

French translation

acheter une bricole, de la camelote, acheter un veau (voiture)

How NOT to translate : *acheter un citron

Examples in context

‘Putting a price on business

Here are some things to consider when buying a business -

Ask why they are selling the business. The owner has been in the business for a long time and if the business is profitable there is often a reluctance to sell. Evaluate the response and ensure that you are not buying a lemon. It may be that the business is in an industry which is slowly dying or growth has slowed. It could also be that the owner has lost an important license or a large customer without which the business cannot survive. It may be that you the prospective buyer can regain the license or customer, however, the selling price must reflect this.’

Observer Media Group, 17 Oct. 2012


Don’t Buy a Lemon, Do Get a Good Deal. […] "Now that the Internet is at our disposal and we have Carfax and AutoCheck and vehicle history reports—this really helps out consumers to know that they’re not buying a lemon," Allen said. "And I’m not saying they’re always going to know everything and they’re always going to report everything. But it is a helpful tool to know where you’re at”.’

CNBC, 15 April 2013


Everyday usage

A house inspector can let you know if you’re about to buy a lemon of a house.

Travel confidently in this vehicle with the included Roadside Assistance program. Don’t buy a lemon !

The car you are going to buy is a real lemon.

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