grain

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grain of truth

A little bit of truth. Often used to refer to a small amount of insight or truth in something otherwise false or nonsensical. The only reason why Dave's joke about my love life bothered me so much is because there was a grain of truth to it.
See also: grain, of, truth

against the grain

1. In the opposite way or perpendicular to the direction of the fibers of a piece of wood (or meat), i.e. its "grain." Don't cut that wood against the grain, or it will be rough around the edges. For most cuts of steak, cookbooks recommend cutting against the grain.
2. By extension, in opposition or contrary to what is generally understood, assumed, practiced, or accepted. The artist always tried to go against the grain, ignoring the artistic trends of her day.
See also: grain

ain't got a grain of sense

Is very foolish or lacking common sense. Jimmy almost crossed the street without looking up from his cell phone. He ain't got a grain of sense!
See also: grain, of, sense

take (something) with a grain of salt

To consider or evaluate something, such as a statement, while keeping in mind that it may not be completely true or accurate, typically due to the unreliability of the source. I heard that you can get a free movie ticket if you wear red, but Kevin told me that, so I'm going to take it with a grain of salt. Take whatever that paper publishes with a grain of salt—it's really a tabloid.
See also: grain, of, salt, take

separate the wheat from the chaff

To separate the good or valuable from that which is inferior. Can you please separate the wheat from the chaff? I have no idea which of these old tools still work.
See also: chaff, separate, wheat

*against the grain

 
1. Lit. across the alignment of the fibers of a piece of wood. (*Typically: be ~; Cut ~; go ~; run ~; saw ~.) You sawed it wrong. You sawed against the grain when you should have cut with grain. You went against the grain and made a mess of your sanding.
2. Fig. running counter to one's feelings or ideas. (*Typically: be ~; go ~.) The idea of my actually taking something that is not mine goes against the grain.
See also: grain

ain't got a grain of sense

 and ain't got a lick of sense
Rur. is or are foolish. Mary spends money like there's no tomorrow. She sure ain't got a grain of sense. I wouldn't trust Jim to take care of my kids. He ain't got a lick of sense.
See also: grain, of, sense

(a) grain of truth

even the smallest amount of truth. The attorney was unable to find a grain of truth in the defendant's testimony. If there were a grain of truth to your statement, I would trust you.
See also: grain, of, truth

separate the wheat from the chaff

Prov. to separate what is useful or valuable from what is worthless. When it comes to books, time will separate the wheat from the chaff. Good books will have lasting appeal, and the rest will be forgotten. The managers hoped that the new procedure for evaluating employees would separate the wheat from the chaff.
See also: chaff, separate, wheat

take something with a pinch of salt

 and take something with a grain of slt
Fig. to listen to a story or an explanation with considerable doubt. You must take anything she says with a grain of salt. She doesn't always tell the truth. They took my explanation with a pinch of salt. I was sure they didn't believe me.
See also: of, pinch, salt, take

against the grain

Opposed to one's inclination or preference, as in We followed the new supervisor's advice, though it went against the grain. This metaphor refers to the natural direction of the fibers in a piece of wood, called its grain; when sawed obliquely, or "against the grain," the wood will tend to splinter. [c. 1600] For a synonym, see rub the wrong way.
See also: grain

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.
See also: grain, of, salt

separate the wheat from the chaff

or

separate the grain from the chaff

If you separate the wheat from the chaff or separate the grain from the chaff, you decide which things or people in a group are good or necessary, and which are not. The first two rounds of the contest separate the wheat from the chaff. Judges should not forget that when you separate the wheat from the chaff, you should try to keep the wheat. Note: You can use sort or sort out instead of separate. It's up to Wilkinson to sort out the wheat from the chaff and get the team back to the top of the table. Note: You can refer to the good or necessary things or people in a group as wheat or grain, and to the others as chaff. There's so little wheat in all this chaff. Was there rather less grain than chaff? Note: `Chaff' refers to the outer covers of wheat or other cereal which are separated from the grain by a process called winnowing. In the Bible (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17), John the Baptist uses the image of someone separating the wheat from the chaff to describe how Jesus will separate those who go to heaven from those who go to hell.
See also: chaff, separate, wheat

go against the grain

COMMON If an idea or action goes against the grain, it is the opposite from what you feel is right or normal and you find it difficult to accept. It goes against the grain to pay more for a product that you know is inferior. The decision not to have children somehow goes against the grain. Note: Something can also run against the grain. It runs against the grain to force your child to leave home. Note: The grain of a piece of wood is the direction of its fibres. It is easier to cut or plane wood along the direction of the grain, rather than across it.
See also: grain

take something with a pinch of salt

mainly BRITISH or

take something with a grain of salt

mainly AMERICAN
COMMON If you say that someone should take some information with a pinch of salt, you mean that they should not believe it completely because it may not all be accurate or true. Reports from the authorities that the situation is calm should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt. You have to take these findings with a grain of salt because respondents in attitude surveys tend to give the answers they feel they should. Note: A pinch of salt is a small amount of salt held between your thumb and your first finger. Some people believe that this expression refers to the King of Pontus, Mithridates VI, who lived in the first century BC. It is said that he made himself immune to poison by swallowing small amounts of it with a grain of salt. However, other people think that it is a medieval English expression, which suggests that you need to be suspicious of unlikely stories in the same way that you need salt with food.
See also: of, pinch, salt, something, take

against the grain

Contrary to custom, one's inclination, or good sense.
See also: grain

with a grain of salt

With reservations; skeptically: Take that advice with a grain of salt.
See also: grain, of, salt