The expression “take it with a grain of salt” suggests that the person expressing the information is uncertain about its accuracy. This means that what they said could be unreliable, and so it’s advisable not to take it too seriously.
Example: You should probably take this with a grain of salt, but I heard a rumor that the local pizza place downtown is closing next week. I hope this is not the case, because I much prefer them over the bigger national chains.
1. Take something lightly
How Small Is a Grain of Salt?
The size of a salt grain can vary and it can be difficult to get an accurate measurement of these grains without the proper equipment. In general, a grain of salt is considered to be very small, and the phrase “take it with a grain of salt” is often used metaphorically to suggest that the information being presented should be viewed with skepticism or caution.
The Origin of ‘Take It With a Grain of Salt’
People have been taking statements with a grain of salt for nearly 200 years. From what I could find, the figurative meaning of the phrase take it with a grain of salt has been around since the early to mid 19th century. For example, the earliest appearance of 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.”
As you can see from the quote, this common phrase was used back then similarly to how it is today. 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.”
Noteworthy is the fact that this phrase has an alternate form that uses the word ‘pinch’ instead of ‘grain,’ e.g., a pinch of salt. Literally speaking, someone might add a pinch of salt to their food while they are cooking. However, this other version of the saying is also used metaphorically, 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, the phrase “take it with a grain of salt” is about 190 years old.
Tip: We have plenty more phrases starting with “T” that you can look through. Explore the full list to find numerous expressions like this one to read about.
What Are Some Uses of Salt?
Grains of salt have many uses in our daily lives. Here are five areas where this little mineral is helpful:
1. Cooking: Salt is used in cooking for seasoning food and adding flavor. It is also used for preserving food.
2. Water softening: Salt is used in water softeners to remove hard minerals in the water.
3. Health: Our bodies need salt in order to function properly, though too much can be detrimental to a person’s health.
4. De-icing: During winter, the roads and sidewalks may become covered in snow. Salt is used resolve this as it can melt the ice.
5. Cleaning: Salt can be used during cleaning. For example, someone might scrub a surface like a counter-top with it. Some people even use grains of salt on their face as an exfoliating scrub.
- 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.
- I told my friend that the nerve issues in her wrist could be from how she holds her tablet. However, I also told her that my suggestion should be taken this with a grain of salt because I’m not a doctor.
- I gave a friend some advice on his car, which he took lightly. That is probably for the best because my knowledge on cars is limited.
Food Phrases and Idioms
If you are finished learning about this salty phrase, well, there’s more where that came from! Check out our list of food related idioms to find others like it.