verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)


Nearby words

  1. pincement,
  2. pincer movement,
  3. pincer nail,
  4. pincers,
  5. pincers movement,
  6. pinch bar,
  7. pinch effect,
  8. pinch graft,
  9. pinch hit,
  10. pinch hitter


    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

1250–1300; Middle English pinchen < Anglo-French *pinchier (equivalent to Old French pincier, Spanish pinchar) < Vulgar Latin *pīnctiāre, variant of *pūnctiāre to prick (cf. pique1)

Related formspinch·a·ble, adjectiveun·pinched, adjective




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.

verb (used with object)

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.

Verb Phrases

salt away,
  1. Also salt preserve by adding quantities of salt to, as meat.
  2. 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.

Origin of salt

before 900; (noun and adj.) Middle English; Old English sealt; cognate with German Salz, Old Norse, Gothic salt; akin to Latin sāl, Greek háls (see halo-); (v.) Middle English salten, Old English s(e)altan; compare Old High German salzan, Old Norse salta, Dutch zouten; see salary

Related formssalt·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for with a grain of salt



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
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

Word Origin for pinch

C16: probably from Old Norman French pinchier (unattested); related to Old French pincier to pinch; compare Late Latin punctiāre to prick


n acronym for

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

verb (tr)

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)

Derived Formssaltish, adjectivesaltless, adjectivesaltlike, adjectivesaltness, noun

Word Origin for salt

Old English sealt; related to Old Norse, Gothic salt, German Salz, Lettish sāls, Latin sāl, Greek hals

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for with a grain of salt
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for with a grain of salt




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.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for with a grain of salt



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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for with a grain of salt


In chemistry, a compound resulting from the combination of an acid and a base, which neutralize each other.


Common table salt is sodium chloride.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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.


In addition to the idioms beginning with pinch

  • pinch hitter
  • pinch pennies

also see:

  • feel the pinch
  • in a pinch
  • with a grain (pinch) of salt


In addition to the idioms beginning with salt

  • salt away
  • salt of the earth, the

also see:

  • back to the salt mines
  • with a grain of salt
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.