Food for Thought – Idiom, Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

So, you’ve stumbled upon the phrase food for thought, eh? It’s a tasty one, but now you’re probably left wondering what kind of culinary delight it is. Well, put your apron aside because this isn’t about cooking at all, but it’ll sure spice up your conversations! Let’s simmer this phrase down to its tender meaning, munch on a few synonyms, trace back its origin, and see how it sizzles in sentences. Ready to dig in?

Is Food for Thought an Idiom?

You bet it is! But if you’re looking in your refrigerator for it, you’re not quite on the right track. This idiom has nothing to do with edibles, even though it sounds like it might be the name of a hipster café.

Food for Thought Meaning Explained

Food for Thought – Idiom Meaning Origin

We use the phrase food for thought to describe something worth pondering or considering seriously. It’s like a gourmet dish for your brain, a mental snack that nourishes your thoughts and ideas.

I had a teacher in high school who’d always end a class with a tidbit or anecdote as the bell rang, saying, “That’s some food for thought for the rest of the day!”

Synonyms for Food for Thought

Feast your eyes on this smorgasbord of synonyms you can use in place of the phrase food for thought.

  • Brain candy
  • Think piece
  • Mental floss
  • Cerebral feast
  • Thought fodder
  • Intellectual nourishment
  • Mind meal
  • Cogitation cuisine
  • Contemplation chow
  • Reflection relish

The Term “Food for Thought” Origin and Etymology

Food for Thought Ngram
Food for thought usage trend.

The expression food for thought has been setting the table for thoughtful conversations since the 1800s, but it did have a spike in popularity in the 1500s. You can find it in so many texts, like the novel by Robert Southey when he used it in “A Tale of Paraguay”:

“A lively tale, and fraught with food for thought.”

Though it’s been stir-fried into slightly different versions over the years, the core recipe remains the same.

Idiom “Food for Thought” Examples in a Sentence

Food for Thought – Idiom Meaning Origin 1

Time to serve up some full sentences that put this phrase into context.

  • The professor’s lecture on quantum physics was certainly food for thought.
  • Reading a good book can be great food for thought.
  • The documentary about climate change gave the viewers much food for thought.
  • The CEO’s innovative ideas were food for thought for the entire team.
  • “This strategy proposal,” said the manager, “should give you ample food for thought.”
  • The movie’s unexpected ending gave me plenty of food for thought.
  • His insightful comments provided food for thought at the conference.
  • The scientific breakthrough in gene editing offers exciting food for thought.
  • Her poetry, filled with rich metaphors, is food for thought.
  • The motivational speaker’s stories served as food for thought for the audience.

Let’s Dish Out the Thoughts!

There you have it, my full-course exploration of the idiom food for thought. So, the next time you stumble upon an intriguing idea or a ponder-worthy statement, just know that it’s not just food. It’s food for thought! Now, feel free to cook up conversations laced with this appetizing idiom. Bon appétit!