With a Grain of Salt


Pliny the Elder is always ending up center stage of a good idea.  He gets credit for a lot of concepts.

One more of these never ending tidbits attributed to him is making prominent the phrase, “take it with a grain of salt”.  Pliny made famous this phrase when recounting a recipe for a poison antidote.

Pliny’s antidote recipe can be found in his book Naturalis Historia (77 C.E.).  It reads as follows:

“After the defeat of that mighty monarch, Mithridates, Gnaeus Pompeius found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own handwriting; it was to the following effect: Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day.

Literally this phrase meant you’d be protected from poison. The figurative meaning of the phrase is to not take something too seriously.  In other words, the person ingesting the information should take it with a grain of salt because it might not be true, it might be poison.


One thought on “With a Grain of Salt

  1. Pingback: The Most Annoying Business Clichés « TAB Blog

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