“Two peas in a pod” is a clever idiom that makes use of imagery and usually comes in the form of a simile. For example, “they’re like two peas in a pod.” As idioms, similes, and proverbs go, this one is more confusing than most. It takes experience with the phrase in order to fully understand what someone means when they say it.
Explore Two peas in a pod
“Two peas in a pod” Meaning
“Two peas in a pod” is a common, lighthearted phrase used in everyday conversation by English speakers. The saying is used to refer to how close two people, or sometimes things, are to one another.
If someone says that a couple is like two peas in a pod, they’re trying to emphasize how close they are to one another. The phrase alludes to the structure of a pea pod in which the peas are tightly packed and identical.
When to Use “Two peas in a pod”
It’s easy to use “two peas in a pod” in a number of situations. It’s usually used as a way to compliment friends, a couple, kids, twins, or perhaps even coworkers, but it’s also possible to use it more negatively or passive-aggressively. If one person doesn’t like who their best friend or partner is spending time with, they might use the phrase to emphasize how much time the two are together and the negative influence they’re sure the other person is being exposed to. It’s easy to imagine a mother using the phrase this way when speaking about their child and a friend or partner.
More positively, one friend might compliment another’s relationship, suggesting that they are like “two peas in a pod,” obviously in love/very close to one another.
It’s also interesting to note how the phrase can be used to refer to appearances and actions, not just how much time two people spend together. Two people might look like or act like “two peas in a pod,” meaning they act identically.
- Have you seen those two? They’re like two peas in a pod.
- I can’t believe what’s going on here, these two are like two peas in a pod now.
- Since when did those two become like two peas in a pod? They’re hanging out all the time now.
- Your pets are like two peas in a pod, I’ve never seen a cat and dog who are better friends.
- All I really want is a good relationship, find someone with whom I can be one of two peas in a pod.
Why Do Writers Use “Two peas in a pod?”
Writers use “two peas in a pod” in the same way that it is used in everyday speech. It can help, as other idioms can, to make dialogue read more realistically. It can be quite impactful to read a phrase that the reader is already familiar with and understands, such as “two peas in a pod.”
Some possible uses include helping to define a couple’s relationship to one another, depicting a friendship (positively or negatively). It should be noted though, that without skillful incorporation into the narrative and a match with the character speaking the words, any idiom can feel out of place.
Origins of “Two peas in a pod”
“Two peas in a pod” is an old expression that does not have a fully defined origin, as is the case with most idioms and proverbs. One of the earliest instances in which the phrase was used can be found in Euphues and his England by John Lyly in 1580. Using Early Modern English, the phrase from the 16th century reads:
Wherin I am not unlike unto the unskilfull Painter, who having drawen the Twinnes of Hippocrates, (who wer as lyke as one pease is to an other).
Here, he uses the alternate spelling, “pease” and rather than saying “two peas in a pod,” writes, “one pease is to an other.”
A later iteration of the phrase, according to Knowyourphrase, comes from The Widow’s Choice, or, One, Two, Three by Catherine G. Ward, published in 1823. It reads in part:
[…] which inclines rather to the aquiline, is as like yours, when you was a young man, as two peas in a pod.”
From the way in which the phrase was used here, it seems quite clear that this was not the first time the idiom had ever been used. The author assumes the reader knows what she means when she says, “two peas in a pod.”
- “Pull someone’s leg.”
- “A blessing in disguise.”
- “Pull yourself together.”
- “No pain, no gain.”
- “Break the ice.”
People use “two peas in a pod” when they want to emphasize how similar two things are or how well they complement one another. It’s usually used to talk about friends.
It has an unclear origin, but one of the first iterations in writing was in Euphues and his England by John Lyly, published in the late 1500s.
It depends on who one is being compared to. If you’re being compared to your best friend or a close sibling, then yes, it’s going to be a good thing. But, if you’re compared to someone with a negative image, then it won’t be.