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The word soapbox has a literal and a figurative meaning. We will examine the definitions of the word soapbox, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

The term soapbox is used in a literal sense to mean the box that holds soap. These boxes were once wooden crates, plentiful and  handy for standing on. Around the turn of the twentieth century soapboxes were used by public orators, especially ones who were speaking in an impromptu manner. These orators often harangued their crowds in a passionate fashion, and the term to get on one’s soapbox was often used to mean that someone was lecturing his listeners. Today, speakers no longer stand on wooden soapboxes, but the term endures to mean someone expressing strong opinions. The term get off your soapbox is often used to chastise someone who is expressing his opinion in an overly passionate way, often in a sanctimonious manner. Note that soapbox is a closed compound word, which is a word composed of two separate words joined together without a space or hyphen between them. Soapboxes were also used by children to  make gravity cars in the 1920s through 1950s.


After he’d stood on his “soapbox” at a Kent County Chiefs Association Meeting, Wilson said he was asked to chair a statewide committee. (The News Journal)

Like so many of us, Springsteen is worried about America’s drift away from its ideals, but he doesn’t get on his soapbox. (The Los Angeles Times)

Spare us another late-nighter getting on his soapbox to yell at the rubes about health-care reform or giving a picture of the president the finger. (The New York Post)