What Does It Mean to "Bear Fruit"?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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"To bear fruit" is an English saying that describes what happens when efforts to achieve a certain end are actually successful. This type of idiomatic expression is used in a number of settings, including as a term in a number of religions to describe the outcome of specific actions or activities that are taken on as a response to the beliefs and practices of a specific faith. In any application, to bear fruit is to realize some return for efforts put forth, although those results may be considered good or bad.

The general idea behind this type of idiomatic expression has to do with the activity that takes place with fruit trees. When the trees are well-tended and healthy, the fruit that is produced is usually of high quality. Should the tree not be tended or the weather is not conducive to growth, then the fruit that is ultimately borne by the tree will be in lesser quantity as well as of a poorer quality. For this reason, the act of bearing fruit is usually directly connected with the efforts to carry out essential tasks with the greatest degree of efficiency in order to make that fruit as desirable as possible.


In many instances, the efforts employed may take some time to produce or bear fruit. For example, a student who wishes to obtain a degree will work consistently over a period of years to successfully complete the required classes and meet all other requirements put in place by the institution he or she is attending. Assuming that all requirements are met, the effort will bear fruit in the form of obtaining a degree that can then be used to build a successful career.

While the idea to bear fruit is often presented in positive terms, this type of activity can also be used to point out how choosing to take certain negative actions will produce results that are less than desirable. For example, if a romantic partner chooses to cheat, that choice could produce the bad fruit of breaking up a relationship and possibly losing some friends once the infidelity is discovered. In like manner, a company that chooses to cut corners on quality in the production process will bear fruit in the form of inferior products that cannot compete successfully in the marketplace. When the fruit produced by the effort is substandard, then the chances for failure rather than success are magnified.


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Post 1

"Bearing fruit" really is just the English translation of a common Biblical theme. In the Gospels, Jesus rebukes a fig tree for not bearing fruit, and tells His disciples that people who do not bear fruit will be cast away.

Bearing fruit, good or bad, is an image most people from nearly any culture can understand. In the Middle East, the image might be of fig or date or olive trees. In Asia, people might think of fruit trees, and so forth. Everyone has seen a fruit bearing tree of some kind, so it's a metaphor that applies across the board.

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