Meaning of greengrocer's apostrophe in English:

greengrocer's apostrophe


(also greengrocers' apostrophe)
informal British
  • An apostrophe placed incorrectly before the final 's' of a plural noun (e.g. a kilo of potato's)

    • ‘the Apostrophe Protection Society will have to work vigorously if it is going to have any effect on the greengrocer's apostrophe’
    • ‘The greengrocers' apostrophe sneaks into everything from apple's to yam's.’
    • ‘Why did they select the spelling with the greengrocer's apostrophe?’
    • ‘This common misuse has been affectionately dubbed "the greengrocer's apostrophe" by specialists in English usage.’
    • ‘Mallard's examples of rampant apostrophization not surprisingly include the much-maligned greengrocer's apostrophe("fresh apple's").’
    • ‘Blog entries lean heavily on the greengrocer's apostrophe, with numerous photographs of offending signs.’
    • ‘The greengrocer's apostrophe is commonest in handwritten signs and greengrocers are prominent among those who often have to write quick, informal notices for public display.’
    • ‘The greengrocer's apostrophe is most often found on signs outside shops on goods for sale: "Tool's reduced"; in shop windows: "Sales assistant's wanted"; and on public noticeboards, especially in personal advertisements: "Lawn's mowed at competitive rates".’


1990s with allusion to use on handwritten signs advertising produce for sale.