food for thought
An idea or issue to ponder, as in That interesting suggestion of yours has given us food for thought. This metaphoric phrase, transferring the idea of digestion from the stomach to mulling something over in the mind, dates from the late 1800s, although the idea was also expressed somewhat differently at least three centuries earlier.
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Words nearby food for thought
BEHIND THE PHRASE
What does food for thought mean?
The phrase food for thought refers to an idea or piece of information that’s worth pondering or thinking over.
Another way of saying this is “something to think about.”
The phrase food for thought is a metaphor: it suggests that the information that has been presented is like or should be treated like food that needs to be digested. In this way, the potentially helpful or insightful points that can be taken from the information are like nutrients that can be absorbed into the body.
Food for thought can be used to refer to any information that causes a person to think about it, as in The researchers were shocked by the results of their study and it provided them with some real food for thought.
But the phrase is perhaps most commonly used to refer to a suggestion or piece of information that’s presented to someone with the intention of getting them to change their outlook in some way. Sometimes, the speaker will even specifically call something food for thought as a way of telling the listener to really think about it.
Example: You could earn a lot more if you became certified—just some food for thought.
Where does food for thought come from?
The first records of the phrase food for thought come from the 1800s, but the word food had been used in the sense of something to think about since at least the 1600s.
Food for thought always involves something that can or should be mulled over or pondered. A synonym for those verbs is ruminate, which is based on a similar metaphor. Ruminate comes from a word that refers to the digestion process of ruminant animals like cows, in which they chew things over and over. Information that’s considered food for thought should be chewed over in one’s mind. Anything that causes you to think for a while can be called food for thought, regardless of whether it’s a serious philosophical topic or useless trivia.
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What are some synonyms for food for thought?
- something to think about
- something to consider
What are some words that share a root or word element with food for thought?
What are some words that often get used in discussing food for thought?
What are some words food for thought may be commonly confused with?
How is food for thought used in real life?
Food for thought is commonly used as a way for someone to suggest that you at least think about what they just said.
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Sean Penn received the 2012 Peace Summit Award from a gathering of Nobel winners today & gave them food for thought http://t.co/QReqKv1Q
— Zafen (@zafen) April 25, 2012
Try using food for thought!
Is food for thought used correctly in the following sentence?
The lecture gave me a lot of food for thought—I’ve been thinking about it since it ended.
How to use food for thought in a sentence
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Rates are thought to be similar in developed countries around the world.How Skinny Is Too Skinny? Israel Bans ‘Underweight’ Models|Carrie Arnold|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Sands was involved in a scandalous-for-the-time romance with the carpenter and there were rumors she was pregnant with his child.New York’s Most Tragic Ghost Loves Minimalist Swedish Fashion|Nina Strochlic|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Not only had the iconic comedian sexually assaulted many, many women, Maher argued, “I never thought he was funny.”Bill Maher: Hundreds of Millions of Muslims Support Attack on ‘Charlie Hebdo’|Lloyd Grove|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Because they stopped and I thought, “OK, that makes sense,” and then all of a sudden I saw another issue!Coffee Talk with Fred Armisen: On ‘Portlandia,’ Meeting Obama, and Taylor Swift’s Greatness|Marlow Stern|January 7, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Other things being equal, the volume of voice used measures the value that the mind puts upon the thought.
He was too drowsy to hold the thought more than a moment in his mind, much less to reflect upon it.The Wave|Algernon Blackwood
To reproduce the impulse born of the thought—this is the aim of a psychological method.
And I have not had the first morsel of food prepared from this grain offered me since I reached the shores of Europe.Glances at Europe|Horace Greeley
There was no doubt thought of his own loss in this question: yet there was, one may hope, a germ of solicitude for the mother too.Children's Ways|James Sully