We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What do People Mean When They Say Something Should be "Taken with a Grain of Salt"?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

When people say that something should be taken with a grain of salt, they mean that it is a very good idea to introduce a measure of skepticism into one's evaluation of a situation. The saying is a reminder that people often wear blinders and do not think things through thoroughly, especially when they sound too good to be true. This idiom has ancient roots, thanks to the long intertwined history of humans and salt, a truly useful spice.

People have been telling each other that things should be taken with a grain of salt in English since at least the 1600s, but the origins of the phrase are much older. In fact, the first person to suggest it was Pliny the Elder, writing in the first century CE. Pliny included a measure of salt in an antidote for poison, and added that people should take threats of poisoning cum grano salis, "with a grain of salt," in a reference to this recipe. Salt actually is effective against some poisons, although the ingestion of large amounts can make a person feel rather ill.

When someone takes a threat with a grain of salt, as Pliny advised, it means that he or she does not take the threat entirely seriously, because he or she has information which makes the threat less scary or effective. Lots of things can seem threatening and overwhelming, but a person can find ways to make them more manageable, whether the threat is the potential loss of a home or a bad grade. In this sense, the proverb is a reminder to calm down and look around for common solutions when are presented with a problem.

A dose of skepticism can also be really useful when evaluating a situation that looks ideal. For example, if someone offers to send another person on an all expenses paid trip to a tropical locale, he or she may want dig deeper to find the hidden catch. If such an offer is taken with a grain of salt, the potential problems will often be revealed. In this sense, the saying reminds people not to accept things at face value, but to dig for more information to get a complete picture.

Some people are criticized for being too skeptical, but there's nothing wrong with remembering that things should be considered carefully. It can keep people out of trouble, and over time someone may even become known as being a bit sharper than other people, because he or she takes the time to fully consider something before responding to it. A measured response to an issue is often better than a hasty one.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Lostnfound — On Apr 28, 2014

I can't remember if this was an expression Shakespeare was fond of using or not. There are so many he gets credit for, that I wonder if he used this one.

By Grivusangel — On Apr 28, 2014

This is definitely one of English's more useful idioms. It's good for a lot of different situations that may need to be examined more carefully.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.