where did the saying "any man worth their salt"come from?

12 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    It means 'any man worth his wages'.

    Centuries ago salt was so valuable that many people used to have part of their pay in salt.

    It's mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible (Ezra) in the context of the pay of the Persian king's servants.

    According to the Roman writer Pliny the Elder, Roman soldiers are also supposed to have been paid in salt.

    It's where the word 'salary' is supposed to come from (the Latin word 'salarium').


  • Erika
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Worth His Salt

  • 1 decade ago

    The phrase actually derives from the 16th century Spanish dockyards, where sailors were paid more or less depending on how much the were able to unload per day. Instead of money, ship captains would often pay their sailors in kind i.e. through whatever commodities were available to them. A common shipped commodity in that part of the world at that time was salt, thus a man could be said to "be worth his salt" if he worked a hard shift. (Naah I'm just fuc*ing wit ya! ;] Made a good effort though would you say?)

  • 1 decade ago

    Everyday we have or hear conversations containing phrases that have been used for many years. Have you ever wondered the origination and meaning of any of these phrases? I have researched the phrase "worth one's salt" and come up with some information that I would like to share with you. I believe you will find this information interesting and informative.

    The phrase "worth one's salt" began with the ancient Romans. One reference suggested that the origin of the phrase "worth one's salt" could date back to before 900 B.C. During that time, Roman soldiers were paid for work in salarium, which was an allowance for the purchase of salt. Salt was considered good for human health and was a hard to find commodity. The word soldier, in that era, literally meant 'one who is paid in salt. The 'sal' in the word salarium is Latin for pay. Over the years, the word salarium was shortened and came into the English language as salary. To say that someone is worth his or her salt, you are saying that he or she is worth the wages that he or she earns. One particular reference used a quote from a Human Resources manager who told her supervisor that she had not hired a new administrative assistant because she had not interviewed anyone worth their salt.

    In researching the origin of this particular phrase, I found that many references to the word salt are to point out the good of something or someone. Phrases such 'as salt of the earth' and 'salting a mine' were popular results during my search. Salt has long been a symbol for good things.

    Salt is mentioned many times in the bible in reference to either being paid or pointing out the good. Jesus told his disciples that they were the 'salt of the earth' during the Sermon on the Mount. In earlier mentions of the bible, Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt. With the many references to salt in the bible, one can only conclude that referring to salt can be describing both positive and negative things.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Not worth your salt - "Not worth your wages. The reference is to the salary composed of rations of salt and other necessaries served out by the Romans to their soldiers, etc."

    Source(s): Brewer, E. C. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. New York: Tess P Inc.
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    5 years ago

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  • 1 decade ago

    I think at one time salt was worth more than gold and people were paid with salt

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The Romans were payed in salt when no coinage or bullion were available. The word salary is derived from the word salt!!

  • 1 decade ago

    romans - they used to get paid in salt , hence a man worth his salt - a Roman soldier that has earned his pay

  • 1 decade ago

    the indians used to barter in salt

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