The Salt of The Earth - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone that they are a genuine and reliable person you can depend on in life? If so, you could call them "the salt of the earth." This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


If you're referring to someone as "the salt of the earth," it means you think they are a genuine, authentic person. You can trust them, and they are dependable. If you ever need them for anything, they are the first to offer help, and they will stick with you to the end.

People who are "the salt of the earth" have a great reputation with people in their community, and they have a high value to the people in their life.

Example Usage

"Tim really is the salt of the earth. You can rely on that guy for anything. He's always level-headed and cool and willing to help."

"Kelly really is the salt of the earth. That guy is 65 and still surfing, and he's always there to give you a hand in the water."

"Our professor is the salt of the earth. He's always ready to listen to our arguments and problems, and he never judges our behavior, no matter what happens."

My granddad is the salt of the earth. He's 95 and still alive, and he has some amazing tales to tell us about his salad days around New York City."


The origin of the saying, "salt of the earth," comes from the Bible. The proverb appears in Matthew 5:13 in the King James Version of the text.

"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?"

Salt was a precious commodity and hard to come by in these times. So, calling someone the salt of the earth meant that they were special and highly regarded due to their impact on other people in the community.

The value of salt in these times also shows up in other sayings like "above the salt" and "worth their salt.". Chaucer was the first to use the expression outside of the Bible, where it appears in his work, "Summoner's Tale," circa 1386.

"Ye been the salt of the erthe and the savour."

Phrases Similar to The Salt of the Earth

  • Genuine person.
  • Admirable and commendable.
  • Trustworthy and reliable.

Phrases Opposite to The Salt of the Earth

  • Unreliable and childish.
  • Immature and irresponsible.
  • Not someone you can rely on in life.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Salt of the earth.

Ways People May Say The Salt of the Earth Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with salt or the earth. It's a way of describing someone genuine and reliable in their speech and actions. Using it to describe the salt you're sprinkling on your meal is incorrect, even though it is a technically sound expression because salt does come from the earth.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase The Salt of the Earth

You can use the saying, "salt of the earth," when you're talking about someone genuine and authentic with their actions and speech. They are someone you can rely on, and they have a very down-to-earth approach to communications and interactions with others.

The phrase suits professional and social conversation. For example, you could say that Mike is "the salt of the earth" at work because he's always willing to help you out with a shift change. At home, you could call your husband the salt of the earth because of their reliability and level-headedness in your relationship.

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