Silver Platter – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Would you like to tell someone that they have gotten everything they ever wanted, and that they might be living right in the lap of luxury without realizing it? The term ‘silver platter’ can be used to apply to people who get given everything they wish or want for. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of the term.

Meaning

The saying ‘silver platter’ can be used to mean that someone is living in the lap of luxury, or that someone has gotten everything they have ever wanted without the need to ask for it.

Sometimes the term can be used as an insult. Even when it is not used as a direct insult to someone, it is often implied that the person is spoiled or does not see the benefits of what they have been given.

The term can be used to say that someone ‘has been given/got everything on a silver platter’.

The expression is figurative, and the ‘silver platter’ that the expression describes is a metaphorical platter that points out spoiled, oblivious, or opulent riches.

If someone has been given anything ‘on a silver platter’ then it means that they have received blessings that they do not necessarily deserve or notice.

The term can also be used to deny the statement, and to say that someone ‘didn’t get everything on a silver platter’ instead.

Sometimes the term is used as a threat with implications, often with the figurative saying that someone wants another person’s ‘head on a silver platter’.

The singular term ‘silver platter’ is still used to indicate the same meaning, even when it is being said to a group (or about one): sometimes the term ‘silver platters’ can be used, and it is still considered valid.

Example Usage

“My brother inherited so much money from our parents that he was set for life. He had everything given to him on a silver platter, but the rest of us had to work hard for it.”

“I’m so angry at my brother for getting everything that he ever wanted in life on a silver platter. The rest of us didn’t have things that easy.”

“If he doesn’t bring me back the money that he owes, I’d like to see his head on a silver platter.”

“Trust your parents, especially if they didn’t give you everything that you wanted on a silver platter. At least they taught you to respect good work ethic.”

Origin

The saying ‘silver platter’ in a figurative sense is likely to have originated due to the fact that silver platters were, from at least the 1700s, a sign of wealth and riches.

As the printing press made written language more widespread for everyone, the expression ‘silver platter’ spread in popularity. Eventually, the term ‘silver platter’ was used in English translations of the Holy Bible, from the synoptic gospels.

The translation of ‘silver platter’ into English through the Bible heightened its popularity as a common household saying. While a ‘silver platter’ can imply that someone has received everything they wanted without question, it can also be used as a threat.

The expression made it into United States law terms from 1914, where ‘silver platter doctrine’ refers to evidence that is found in a federal suit – and how it was considered in Weeks v. United States.

Phrases Similar to Silver Platter

  • Without return
  • For nothing

Phrases Opposite to Silver Platter

  • N/a

What is the Correct Saying?

  • [given] on a silver platter

Ways People May Say Silver Platter Incorrectly

There are several ways in which someone can say the term ‘silver platter’ in the wrong way, or misunderstand the meaning of the term when it is used.

A ‘silver platter’ imples something for nothing, or return without effort.

Usually, only the singular form of the term is used.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Silver Platter

The correct way to use the phrase ‘silver platter’ is to imply that someone has received something for nothing (or returns for no real effort).

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