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"Salt of the earth"...

(104 Posts)
cheeriosatdawn Sat 02-Dec-17 14:52:21

A notorious snob used this term to describe a friend of mine the other day, then feigned deep hurt and surprise that I didn't pretend to think it a compliment of sorts.

My take on that isn't due only to the phrase, but to the person who uttered it--and what I know she thinks of the woman she used it in reference to.

The speaker can be hideous. And is an elitist to the tips of her (unpolished because polish is deeply vulgar) fingers.

And I know she thinks the friend of mine she was referencing is her inferior.


If you used the term "salt of the earth" to describe someone, what would you really be trying to say?

x2boys Sat 02-Dec-17 14:54:41

That they are hardworking probably working class ? Btw I'm working class and live in a council house but that would be my interpretation .

PantPlot Sat 02-Dec-17 14:55:16

I would use to describe someone I thought was warm, decent and kind to the core.

I didn't know there were any other connotations

LemonysSnicket Sat 02-Dec-17 14:56:31

Id think it was an americanism used to describe workling class people who work very hard but are not well off. Kind of like your 'average joe'. Always makes me think of 'the backbone of America' type propaganda.

bruffin Sat 02-Dec-17 14:56:31

The person i know who used to like to be thought of as "salt of the earth" was a huge reverse snob

ShowMePotatoSalad Sat 02-Dec-17 14:57:00

I don't understand why that would be a snobby thing to say.

ClashCityRocker Sat 02-Dec-17 14:56:59

I thought it was a slightly patronising phrase used by posh people 'he's a bit rough around the edges aka poor but he's alright really'

Rheged Sat 02-Dec-17 14:57:06

As far as I’m aware ‘salt of the earth’ isn’t pejorative.

HuskyMcClusky Sat 02-Dec-17 14:59:08

Down-to-earth, unpretentious and genuine.

Usually used in a ‘rough diamond’ kind of way.

EnthusiasmIsDisturbed Sat 02-Dec-17 15:00:00

Kind, honest and hard working

But also has class connotations it would be directed at someone who is working class

HuskyMcClusky Sat 02-Dec-17 15:00:36

I don’t think it’s inherently pejorative; quite the opppsite.

But I do see how it could be used in a patronising way.

MsDoubtingfire Sat 02-Dec-17 15:02:13

I used the term in my grandfather’s ecology. I meant it to illustrate how good and kind and hardworking and unpretentious he was.

It’s not a term you would use to describe a member of the artisticracy. It’s a compliment for someone who has lead a simple life. You seem to be suggesting that its a posh way of calling someone a chav, but I don’t see it that way at all.

1DAD2KIDS Sat 02-Dec-17 15:02:30

Context and intent is critical. It could have been a sort of passive aggressive put down or a genuine comment. Who knows? Maybe give the benefit of the doubt on this one?

MsDoubtingfire Sat 02-Dec-17 15:02:39

Eulogy not ecology!

gateto Sat 02-Dec-17 15:04:36

my mum uses this phrase a lot but i've never thought of it as a 'rough diamond' sort of phrase. I always thought it was just more to describe a genuine, kind and down to earth person

TheSmallClangerWhistlesAgain Sat 02-Dec-17 15:07:03

It does depend on context. Said in a certain way, it could mean a chippy "University of Life" type.

BackforGood Sat 02-Dec-17 15:08:46

It is a compliment in my book. Describes someone an organisation or group couldn't do without. Really hard working, just 'gets on with it' sort of a person. No fuss nor frills, just a real asset to the group.
Sounds to me like you are letting your dislike of this person cloud your judgement / twist the words.
'Salt of the earth' is a nice thing to say about someone.

dangermouse7 Sat 02-Dec-17 15:10:35

YABU. 'Salt of the earth' means someone who is reliable and kind and generous.

How is it 'snobby' to call someone that? confused

charlestonchaplin Sat 02-Dec-17 15:14:23

Id think it was an americanism used to describe workling class people who work very hard but are not well off. Kind of like your 'average joe'. Always makes me think of 'the backbone of America' type propaganda.

It isn't some new-fangled Americanism. The phrase originates from the bible.

BoomBoomsCousin Sat 02-Dec-17 15:14:40

I’ve heard “salt of the earth” used perjoratively. Not normally nastily, but definitely meaning that the person is beneath their own social standing. But the vast majority of times I’ve heard it it’s been meant in a very positive way.

SwimmingInLemonade Sat 02-Dec-17 15:18:39

warm, decent and kind to the core.
reliable and kind and generous.
a genuine, kind and down to earth person
The phrase originates from the bible.

All this.

I don't think the speaker, snobby as they may be, was "feigning" surprise that you thought they meant it in a negative way.

JanetStWalker Sat 02-Dec-17 15:18:41

I've heard it used to describe Kerry Katona.

picklemepopcorn Sat 02-Dec-17 15:19:08

Salt of the earth is someone who makes the world better. Someone who is crucial to the people in their community, not the obvious powerful people but the simpler folk who keep the wheels running. So it can refer to people of modest means and appearance, to recognise that they are really important despite their modesty.

However, there will always be people who use it as a back handed compliment.

spidey66 Sat 02-Dec-17 15:19:12

I wouldn't see it as offensive either. Like others, I'd use it to describe a hard working, decent and kind person.

Koloh Sat 02-Dec-17 15:19:23

I'd be saying warm hearted and hard working - decent, unpretentious, and kind. A thoroughly decent person, is the connotation of the phrase and I have never heard it used as a pejorative. To do so could only reflect badly on the, er, pejorator, surely?

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