What Does It Mean to ‘Take Something with a Grain of Salt or Pinch of Salt’?

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

To take a statement or advice with a pinch of salt means —

  • to not believe it completely;
  • to be doubtful of its accuracy;
  • to be skeptical about something.

This meaning comes from a Roman belief. It was believed that the food was more easily swallowed and digested if taken with a small quantity of salt. The source of this belief was an ancient recipe that was supposedly an antidote to poison. In this recipe, these words were written: “be taken fasting, with a grain of salt”. The implication was that a small or moderate quantity of salt will lessen the effects of poison.

Thus, the figurative meaning of this phrase has evolved over time that the truth is more easily digestible if it is moderated with a slight hint of skepticism.

Let’s see an example —

“Politicians make big promises, but the public has learned to take them with a pinch/grain of salt.”

It means that the public doesn’t really believe that the politicians will fulfill their big promises.

I hope you found this story interesting. If you did, buy my full course on Udemy or watch it for free on Skillshare by signing up here. This course covers nearly 380 idioms with their origins and backstories.

Hi, I am Gauri Shanker, a Vocab teacher and enthusiast. I teach vocabulary in a fun and engaging way. You can check out my courses here.

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