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Worth one’s salt

To be worth one’s salt means to be competent and efficient at one’s profession. A person who is worth his salt lives up to the expectations of his job or situation. Worth one’s salt is rooted in the fact that salt has long been a valuable commodity, essential in the human diet and used for a myriad of reasons including food preservation. There is a story that the term worth one’s salt dates to Ancient Rome, when soldiers were paid in salt. However, many historians dispute this story, saying that Roman soldiers were paid money in order to buy salt, but were not actually paid with salt. Currently, the earliest known written citation of the term to be worth one’s salt is 1805.


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Examples

With the polls, the bookies, the European Union and the International Monetary System all agreeing (propagandizing) that Great Britain would vote to remain in the Union, it was a sure bet to any contrarian worth his salt that the opposite would happen. (The Berkshire Eagle)

“Every black man in Wilmington who’s worth his salt,” writes Trillin, quoting a black municipal court judge, “when he leaves his job in the evening and sees the convoys, something happens to him.” (The Chicago Tribune)

Not so, says Mr Walsh, a veteran of Savills’ Abu Dhabi office, who, like any estate agent worth his salt, points to the benefits of this particular project. (The National)

Also, bear in mind that most designers worth their salt absolutely abhor the idea of doing quality work for a lottery’s chance of getting paid anything at all. (Comstock’s Magazine)

Making the concoctions may be a bit of a pickle, but it should be a cakewalk for you if you are a chef worth your salt. (The Daily News & Analysis)

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