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What does the old saying 'take it with a grain of salt' mean?

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05/22/2011

With a Grain of Salt

You should take what you hear and evaluate it on your own, don't take it for being the truth or correct. The phrase is usually used when a person it giving you the 'low down' on what another person has told you. It is a warning that what that person has said, or may say, is not necessarily correct and accurate.

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My grandmother used to say this to me all the time. Basically, it means to be skeptical or to question something that someone has told you. For example, if someone has a tendency to exaggerate, you'll want to take what they have said with a grain or pinch of salt. Answers.com says that the expression is a translation of the Latin cum grano salis, which Pliny used in describing Pompey's discovery of an antidote for poison (to be taken with a grain of salt).

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To take 'with a grain of salt' means to take with a heavy dose of skepticism, caution and suspicion.

The saying came from the old cure for poison - a pinch of salt. Salt was said to have healing properties, so to eat a meal 'with a pinch of salt' meant that you suspected the meal of being poisoned.