be worth (one's) salt(redirected from they have been worth their salt)
be worth (one's) salt
To warrant respect in a certain field or area, typically because one does one's job well. Any teacher who is worth their salt knows how to deal with unruly students like Tom. I'm confident enough to know I'm worth my salt around here. I make a lot of money for this company.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
worth one's salt, to be
To be worth one’s wages; a good employee. This term alludes to the practice of paying Roman soldiers with rations of salt and other valuable and essential items, whence the Latin word salarium (in turn the English salary), or “salt money.” The term was picked up by numerous nineteenth-century writers. Robert Louis Stevenson used it in Treasure Island (1883): “It was plain from every line of his body that our new hand was worth his salt.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer