Take It With a Grain of Salt | Meaning & Examples

Idioms updated on  March 25, 2024 3 min read

Take it with a grain of salt is an English idiom that means “view or consider something with skepticism.” When someone uses this expression, they are suggesting that the information provided may not be entirely credible and therefore should be received with reservation.

Take it with a grain of salt examples
He claims to know what really happened, but I’d take it with a grain of salt until we see some more evidence.

The article provides plenty of financial tips, but make sure to take it with a grain of salt since it wasn’t written by experts.

The forecast claims it won’t rain. Take it with a grain of salt, though, because we’ve had unpredictable weather all week.

How to use take it with a grain of salt

“Take it with a grain of salt” is an idiom that means “receive information skeptically because it may be untrue or misleading.” It is typically used as part of a longer clause (e.g., “I had to take it with a grain of salt since he just started working here”). However, the expression can also stand on its own as an imperative sentence.

The word “take” in this idiom is a verb, meaning that the expression can be used in a few different tenses and forms.

Examples: How to use take it with a grain of salt
She provided helpful guidance, but I took it with a grain of salt, seeing as though she just started painting as a hobby.

My brother has been providing me with data as to why I should get a MacBook, but I have taken it with a grain of salt because he works for Apple and therefore might be biased.

Despite the rumors of the company merging with its competitor, the employees were taking it with a grain of salt until their CEO made an official announcement.

“Take it with a grain of salt” is often adapted by replacing the pronoun “it” with the specific noun or noun phrase that should be viewed skeptically. For instance, when someone is offering you information, they might say, "Take that information with a grain of salt.”

Take it with a grain of salt examples
Considering his track record, I’d take what he told you with a grain of salt.
She seems biased, so I’d take her opinions with a grain of salt.
I’d take the news with a grain of salt, seeing as it’s an unverified report.

Take it with a grain of salt origin

The origins of “take it with a grain of salt” remain uncertain, as there is no direct evidence that conclusively links any theory to the idiom. However, some believe that Pliny the Elder used a version of this expression—addito salis grano (i.e., “after having added a grain of salt”)—in Naturalis Historia in reference to an antidote to a poison. It was then interpreted that any threats involving that poison could be taken less seriously, or “with a grain of salt,” thanks to the existence of the antidote.

Another theory states that Pompey, a Roman general, believed that he could gain immunity to poisons by consuming small amounts of them and that he would do so by ingesting the poisons with a grain of salt.

In its modern usage, “take it with a grain of salt” has nothing to do with poison but instead suggests approaching information with suspicion or caution rather than outright believing it or dismissing it.

Take it with a pinch of salt

“Take it with a pinch of salt” is a variation of the idiom “take it with a grain of salt” that is more popular in British English than in American English. It is used in the same way to mean “receive information skeptically or dubiously.”

Take it with a pinch of salt examples
When she heard the gossip, she decided to take it with a pinch of salt until she heard it directly from the source.

The professor recommended that we take the study with a pinch of salt because it hadn’t been peer-reviewed yet.

We were given ambitious sales targets but took them with a pinch of salt because of the current financial challenges.

Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


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Irregular verb

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Gerund

Sunk cost fallacy

Piece of cake

Infinitive phrase

Red herring fallacy

Better late than never

Infinitive

Appeal to authority fallacy

Salt of the earth

Adverb

Circular reasoning fallacy


Frequently asked questions about take it with a grain of salt

What is a synonym for take it with a grain of salt?

Some synonyms that can be used in place of “take it with a grain of salt” include:

  • Approach that information with caution
  • Be dubious about
  • Be wary of
  • Don’t take it at face value
  • Maintain a healthy skepticism about

What does take it with a pinch of salt mean?

Take it with a pinch of salt is a variant of the idiom take it with a grain of salt. Both convey the same meaning—to consider something skeptically because it may be untrue or misleading.

“Take it with a pinch of salt” is more popular in British English, whereas “take it with a grain of salt” is more commonly used in American English. Usage depends on the dialect being used and stylistic preferences.

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Gina Rancano

Gina holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, as well as a certificate in professional and public writing from Florida International University. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading.

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