Lexicographer Ben Zimmer on the etymology of taking something with a grain of salt.

Take It With a Grain of Salt! But Why a Single Grain? And Why Salt?

Take It With a Grain of Salt! But Why a Single Grain? And Why Salt?

A show about the mysteries of English.
March 8 2016 11:08 AM

Take It With a Grain of Salt! But Why a Single Grain? And Why Salt?

A phrase with roots in Ancient Rome has confounded English speakers for centuries.

Grain of salt.

MarianVejcik/Thinkstock

Listen to Lexicon Valley Episode No. 81:

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Mike Vuolo and Bob Garfield discuss the etymology and history of the phrase with a grain of salt with Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer. For more on the phrase, visit Zimmer’s Word Routes column on Vocabulary.com.

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