informal A bad or corrupt person in a group, especially one whose behaviour is likely to have a detrimental influence on the others: chartered accountants have no time for rotten apples in their professional barrel looks like we hired ourselves a bad apple
[with reference to the effect that a rotten apple has on fruit with which it is in contact]
More example sentences
- That's all I'm saying, is we have to start blaming the barrel and not simply saying there are a few bad apples who corrupted the barrel.
- Still, aggressive masculine behaviour isn't the problem of a few bad apples.
- Some reports list the officers and agencies responsible by name, but they are likely never to be considered bad apples, but only the custodians of a barrel that had some defects.