- to squeeze or compress between the finger and thumb, the teeth, the jaws of an instrument, or the like.
- to constrict or squeeze painfully, as a tight shoe does.
- to cramp within narrow bounds or quarters: The crowd pinched him into a corner.
- to render (the face, body, etc.) unnaturally constricted or drawn, as pain or distress does: Years of hardship had pinched her countenance beyond recognition.
- to affect with sharp discomfort or distress, as cold, hunger, or need does.
- to straiten in means or circumstances: The depression pinched them.
- to stint (a person, family, etc.) in allowance of money, food, or the like: They were severely pinched by the drought.
- to hamper or inconvenience by the lack of something specified: The builders were pinched by the shortage of good lumber.
- to stint the supply or amount of (a thing).
- to put a pinch or small quantity of (a powder, spice, etc.) into something.
- to roll or slide (a heavy object) with leverage from a pinch bar.
- to steal.
- to arrest.
- Digital Technology. to move two or more fingers toward or away from each other on (a touchscreen) in order to execute a command (often followed by in or out): Zoom in by pinching the screen.
- Horticulture. to remove or shorten (buds or shoots) in order to produce a certain shape of the plant, improve the quality of the bloom or fruit, or increase the development of buds (often followed by out, off, or back).
- Nautical. to sail (a ship) so close to the wind that the sails shake slightly and the speed is reduced.
- Horse Racing, British. to press (a horse) to the point of exhaustion.
- to exert a sharp or painful constricting force: This shoe pinches.
- to cause sharp discomfort or distress: Their stomachs were pinched with hunger.
- to economize unduly; stint oneself: They pinched and scraped for years to save money for a car.
- Digital Technology. to move the fingers toward or away from each other on a touchscreen (often followed by in or out): Pinching in will zoom in, and pinching out will zoom out.
- Mining. (of a vein of ore or the like)
- to diminish.
- to diminish to nothing (sometimes followed by out).
- Nautical. to trim a sail too flat when sailing to windward.
- the act of pinching; nip; squeeze.
- as much of anything as can be taken up between the finger and thumb: a pinch of salt.
- a very small quantity of anything: a pinch of pungent wit.
- sharp or painful stress, as of hunger, need, or any trying circumstances: the pinch of conscience; to feel the pinch of poverty.
- a situation or time of special stress, especially an emergency: A friend is someone who will stand by you in a pinch.
- pinch bar.
- Slang. a raid or an arrest.
- Slang. a theft.
- Digital Technology. an act or instance of pinching a touchscreen.
- pinch pennies, to stint on or be frugal or economical with expenditures; economize: I'll have to pinch pennies if I'm going to get through school.
- with a pinch of salt. salt1(def 24).Also with a grain of salt.
Origin of pinch
- a crystalline compound, sodium chloride, NaCl, occurring as a mineral, a constituent of seawater, etc., and used for seasoning food, as a preservative, etc.
- table salt mixed with a particular herb or seasoning for which it is named: garlic salt; celery salt.
- Chemistry. any of a class of compounds formed by the replacement of one or more hydrogen atoms of an acid with elements or groups, which are composed of anions and cations, and which usually ionize in solution; a product formed by the neutralization of an acid by a base.
- salts, any of various salts used as purgatives, as Epsom salts.
- an element that gives liveliness, piquancy, or pungency: Anecdotes are the salt of his narrative.
- wit; pungency.
- a small, usually open dish, as of silver or glass, used on the table for holding salt.
- Informal. a sailor, especially an old or experienced one: He's an old salt who'll be happy to tell you about his years at sea.
- to season with salt.
- to cure, preserve, or treat with salt.
- to furnish with salt: to salt cattle.
- to treat with common salt or with any chemical salt.
- to spread salt, especially rock salt, on so as to melt snow or ice: The highway department salted the roads after the storm.
- to introduce rich ore or other valuable matter fraudulently into (a mine, the ground, a mineral sample, etc.) to create a false impression of value.
- to add interest or excitement to: a novel salted with witty dialogue.
- containing salt; having the taste of salt: salt water.
- cured or preserved with salt: salt cod.
- inundated by or growing in salt water: salt marsh.
- producing the one of the four basic taste sensations that is not sweet, sour, or bitter.
- pungent or sharp: salt speech.
- salt away,
- Also salt down.to preserve by adding quantities of salt to, as meat.
- Informal.to keep in reserve; store away; save: to salt away most of one's earnings.
- salt out, to separate (a dissolved substance) from a solution by the addition of a salt, especially common salt.
- rub salt in/into someone's wounds, to make someone's bad situation even worse.
- with a grain/pinch of salt, with reserve or allowance; with an attitude of skepticism: Diplomats took the reports of an impending crisis with a grain of salt.
- worth one's salt, deserving of one's wages or salary: We couldn't find an assistant worth her salt.
Origin of salt1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- to press (something, esp flesh) tightly between two surfaces, esp between a finger and the thumbSee nip 1
- to confine, squeeze, or painfully press (toes, fingers, etc) because of lack of spacethese shoes pinch
- (tr) to cause stinging pain tothe cold pinched his face
- (tr) to make thin or drawn-looking, as from grief, lack of food, etc
- (usually foll by on) to provide (oneself or another person) with meagre allowances, amounts, etc
- pinch pennies to live frugally because of meanness or to economize
- (tr) nautical to sail (a sailing vessel) so close to the wind that her sails begin to luff and she loses way
- (intr sometimes foll by out) (of a vein of ore) to narrow or peter out
- (usually foll by off, out, or back) to remove the tips of (buds, shoots, etc) to correct or encourage growth
- (tr) informal to steal or take without asking
- (tr) informal to arrest
- a squeeze or sustained nip
- the quantity of a substance, such as salt, that can be taken between a thumb and finger
- a very small quantity
- a critical situation; predicament; emergencyif it comes to the pinch we'll have to manage
- the pinch sharp, painful, or extreme stress, need, etcfeeling the pinch of poverty
- See pinch bar
- slang a robbery
- slang a police raid or arrest
- at a pinch if absolutely necessary
- with a pinch of salt or with a grain of salt without wholly believing; sceptically
- Strategic Arms Limitation Talks or Treaty
- a white powder or colourless crystalline solid, consisting mainly of sodium chloride and used for seasoning and preserving food
- (modifier) preserved in, flooded with, containing, or growing in salt or salty watersalt pork; salt marshes
- chem any of a class of usually crystalline solid compounds that are formed from, or can be regarded as formed from, an acid and a base by replacement of one or more hydrogen atoms in the acid molecules by positive ions from the base
- liveliness or pungencyhis wit added salt to the discussion
- dry or laconic wit
- a sailor, esp one who is old and experienced
- short for saltcellar
- rub salt into someone's wounds to make someone's pain, shame, etc, even worse
- salt of the earth a person or group of people regarded as the finest of their kind
- with a grain of salt or with a pinch of salt with reservations; sceptically
- worth one's salt efficient; worthy of one's pay
- to season or preserve with salt
- to scatter salt over (an icy road, path, etc) to melt the ice
- to add zest to
- (often foll by down or away) to preserve or cure with salt or saline solution
- chem to treat with common salt or other chemical salt
- to provide (cattle, etc) with salt
- to give a false appearance of value to, esp to introduce valuable ore fraudulently into (a mine, sample, etc)
- not sour, sweet, or bitter; salty
- obsolete rank or lascivious (esp in the phrase a salt wit)
Word Origin and History for with a grain of salt
early 13c., from Old North French *pinchier "to pinch, squeeze, nip; steal" (Old French pincier, Modern French pincer), of uncertain origin, possibly from Vulgar Latin *punctiare "to pierce," which might be a blend of Latin punctum "point" + *piccare "to pierce." Meaning "to steal" in English is from 1650s. Sense of "to be stingy" is recorded from early 14c. Related: Pinched; pinching.
Old English sealt "salt" (n.; also as an adjective, "salty, briny"), from Proto-Germanic *saltom (cf. Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old Frisian, Gothic salt, Dutch zout, German Salz), from PIE *sal- "salt" (cf. Greek hals "salt, sea," Latin sal, Old Church Slavonic soli, Old Irish salann, Welsh halen "salt").
Modern chemistry sense is from 1790. Meaning "experienced sailor" is first attested 1840, in reference to the salinity of the sea. Salt was long regarded as having power to repel spiritual and magical evil. Many metaphoric uses reflect that this was once a rare and important resource, e.g. worth one's salt (1830), salt of the earth (Old English, after Matt. v:13). Belief that spilling salt brings bad luck is attested from 16c. To be above (or below) the salt (1590s) refers to customs of seating at a long table according to rank or honor, and placing a large salt-cellar in the middle of the dining table.
Salt-lick first recorded 1751; salt-marsh is Old English sealtne mersc; salt-shaker is from 1882. Salt-and-pepper "of dark and light color" first recorded 1915. To take something with a grain of salt is from 1640s, from Modern Latin cum grano salis.
Cold War U.S.-U.S.S.R. nuclear weapons negotiations, 1968, acronym for Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (which would make SALT talks redundant, but the last element sometimes also is understood as treaty).
Old English sealtan, from Proto-Germanic *salto- (see salt (n.)), and in part from the noun. Related: Salted; salting.
late 15c., "critical juncture" (as in baseball pinch hitter, attested from 1912), from pinch (v.). This figurative sense is attested earlier than the literal sense of "act of pinching" (1590s) or that of "small quantity" (as much as can be pinched between a thumb and finger), which is from 1580s. There is a use of the noun from mid-15c. apparently meaning "fold or pleat of fabric."
- A colorless or white crystalline solid, chiefly sodium chloride, used extensively as a food seasoning and preservative.
- A chemical compound replacing all or part of the hydrogen ions of an acid with metal ions or electropositive radicals.
- salts Any of various mineral salts, such as magnesium sulfate, sodium sulfate, or potassium sodium tartrate, used as laxatives or cathartics.
- salts Smelling salts.
- salts Epsom salts.
- Any of a large class of chemical compounds formed when a positively charged ion (a cation) bonds with a negatively charged ion (an anion), as when a halogen bonds with a metal. Salts are water soluble; when dissolved, the ions are freed from each other, and the electrical conductivity of the water is increased. See more at complex salt double salt simple salt.
- A colorless or white crystalline salt in which a sodium atom (the cation) is bonded to a chlorine atom (the anion). This salt is found naturally in all animal fluids, in seawater, and in underground deposits (when it is often called halite). It is used widely as a food seasoning and preservative. Also called common salt, sodium chloride, table salt. Chemical formula: NaCl.
Idioms and Phrases with with a grain of salt
with a grain of salt
Also, with a pinch of salt. Skeptically, with reservations. For example, I always take Sandy's stories about illnesses with a grain of salt—she tends to exaggerate. This 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). It was soon adopted by English writers.