Think in English with Adah

A TEFL blog: You have to train yourself to think in English

A Phrase A Week: To take something with a grain of salt

Meaning

To consider something to be not completely true or right. If you take what someone says with a pinch of salt, you do not completely believe it.

Origin

The idea comes from the fact that food is more easily swallowed if taken with a small amount of salt.

One of the reasons salt has historically been so important to humanity is its ability to preserve food and to hide the taste of rot. Hence the expression, “take it with a grain of salt” when someone tells you something that might not be accurate.

 Examples

1.      They took my explanation with a pinch of salt. I was sure they didn’t believe me.

2.      You have to take everything she says with a pinch of salt. She has a tendency to exaggerate.

3.      It’s interesting to read the reports in the newspapers, but I tend to take them with a grain of salt.

 

A Phrase A Week: Lo and behold!

Meaning

When you tell someone about something surprising that happened, you can say “Lo and behold!”

 

Origin

The word ‘lo’ as used in this phrase is a shortening of ‘look’. So, lo and behold! has the meaning of look! – behold!.

Something not very far removed from lo and behold appears in the Bible, Genesis 15:3 (King James Version):

“And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.”

The complete phrase is first recorded in an 1808 letter in the Correspondence 1787–1870, of Queen Victoria’s lady of the bedchamber – Lady Sarah Spencer Lyttelton:

“Hartington… had just told us how hard he had worked all the morning… when, lo and behold! M. Deshayes himself appeared.”

Examples

1.      I went into a bar just next to our hotel and, lo and behold, who should I see sitting there but Jim Gibson!

2.      Carrie tried her luck at the lottery and, lo and behold, won1500! 

A Phrase A Week: To save one’s bacon

Meaning

If something saves your bacon, it saves you from failure or difficulties. You can also say that someone saves your bacon if they save you from a lot of trouble.

 

Examples

1.  You saved my bacon there. I’d probably have lost my job if you hadn’t been ready with an explanation.

2.  It’s a short book but it could save your bacon when you’re traveling overseas.