against the grain

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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

*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

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

against the grain

contrary to the natural inclination or feeling of someone or something.
This phrase alludes to the fact that wood is easier to cut along the line of the grain than across or against it.
See also: grain

against the grain

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