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Idioms, Cliches, and Slang
Word and Phrase Origins

What is the origin of the idiom-Salt of the Earth?

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September 22, 2009 1:47AM

It comes from the King James Version of the Bible, in Matthew 5:13, which says: "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."

Salt was more valuable than gold in the ancient world. When Jesus said to his disciples, 'Ye are the salt of the earth.Ye are the light of the world.' he was saying they were more valuable than gold, and by extension, so was anyone who would suffer persecution for their loyalty to him. The phrase has been used ever since to praise the very best kind of people. It has come to be typically used to pay a compliment to the finest common folk, humble, unsung heroes, decent, hardworking, dependable and unpretentious, the type that quietly give of themselves for the benefit of others and their community.