If someone provides information, they might say ‘take it with a grain of salt‘ afterwards, which means they are unsure if the information is accurate or true. In other words, what they said might be unreliable, so don’t take it too seriously.
Example: Our favorite local pizza place is possibly shutting down in the next few weeks. However, take it with a grain of salt because that is just a rumor I heard.
The Origin of ‘Take It With a Grain of Salt’
How long has this phrase existed as an idiom? Well, from my findings, the figurative meaning of the phrase ‘take it with a grain of salt’ has been around since the 1800s. For example, the earliest I could find it in print is from an Australian published newspaper called The Sydney Monitor, 1834:
“There are orators, I confess, in the colony, who are fond of haranguing at public meetings on this favourite theme, but whose statements must be received with a grain of salt.”
This expression appears in America as early as the 1850s. For example, in Graham’s Magazine, Volume 47, 1855:
“But our intelligence must be taken with a grain of salt, seeing the dictator is no favorite of any of our writers.”
Of note, this phrase has an alternate form that uses ‘pinch’ instead of ‘grain.’ This alternate form is common in cooking, as someone might literally add a ‘pinch’ of salt to whatever dish they’re making. However, this other version of the saying is also used in a non-literal way, with the same meaning as the ‘grain’ version. For instance, in The Brisbane Courier newspaper, 1878:
“For myself, well in as Wrangler undoubtedly is—perhaps the pick of the handicap—I take him with a pinch of salt, so to speak.”
In summary, this phrase has existed as an idiom for at least 186 years.
Tip: Hey, if you don’t already know, we have more phrases starting with “T” that you can look through. Explore the full list and you’ll find plenty of expressions to read about like this one.
- I think English is one of the hardest languages to learn. Then again, I’m not confident about that so take it with a grain of salt.
- The nerve issues in your wrist could be from how you hold your tablet, Layla; you usually hold it with one hand for extended periods of time. However, my suggestion should be taken this with a grain of salt because I’m not a doctor.
- I gave my friend some advice on his car, which he took lightly. That’s probably for the best, since my knowledge on cars is limited.
Food Phrases and Idioms
If you are done reading about this salty phrase, there’s more where that came from! Check out our list of food related idioms to find others like it.