The Difference Between Lemons and Limes

A few weeks ago, I asked the people who follow my Twitter account to describe the difference between lemons and limes. My immediate prompt was because I was trying to explain that some languages use the same word for both citrus fruits, and others only have a word for one or the other, and thus are forced to use descriptors to distinguish between which one is being specified.
But the responses I got back ranged from charming to insightful, and all demonstrated just how strongly lemons and limes affect our senses. Here’s a sample of the responses from Twitter and Facebook.
The literalist:

  • baffled: Easy: lemons are lemony and limes are more limey

The bitter-sweet battle:

  • ericagee: Limes are a little bit sweeter and a lot bit tarter :).
  • antichason: lemons have a bitter undertone to the sour, while limes are sweeter. Which is why limeade will always be superior to lemonade.
  • choirshark: lemons vs. limes: lemons are rarely tasting bitter to me, lime do sometimes

The poets:

  • freshelectrons: limes have a little taste of moonlight and silver in with the sunshine / citrus aromatics
  • Wiley Wiggins: Lemons have a sweeter darker flavor, Limes are sharper and metallic, the sweetness is married closer to the acidity. The acid in lemons is fruitier.

A few charming responses:

  • gwentown: Easy: limes are better. [I loved the blatantly opinionated response here.]
  • danwolfgang: lemons are great for lemonade, limes are great for marinades. [This sounded like Dorothy Parker to me.]
  • otherniceman: lemons }{, limes () [Obviously nerdy, but still somehow clearly correct.]

And then, those that were least literal and perhaps most evocative. These caught my eye because (at least as I read them) they seemed like totally unselfconscious responses based on how we perceive the taste and smell of these fruits.

Thanks to everyone who responded. If you’re looking for a scientific distinctions between the two species, you can consult your favorite reference materials to learn about Citrus aurantifolia or C. latifolia (limes) and Citrus limon (lemons). A quick Google search for comparisons between the two fruit will yield a large number of people saying that limes are just unripened lemons. These people are stupid and should learn from the wisdom of the folks I’ve quoted above.

Anil Dash

Anil Dash

Building @Glitch 🎏 — the friendly community creating the best stuff on the web • humane + ethical tech advocate • I 💜 funk, civics, mangos, justice & people • he/him

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