What Is a Good Samaritan? – 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.

As an idiom, a good Samaritan is a person who helps others, especially strangers or those in need, but without expecting to be rewarded or get anything in return. But why are they called Samaritans, and what’s the story behind the idiom? I’ll explain the biblical history attached to this phrase and show you how to properly use it.

The Good Samaritan Meaning as an Idiom

What Is a Good Samaritan Idiom Meaning Origin

So, who’s a good Samaritan? Well, the answer is pretty easy. A good Samaritan is just a person who helps those in need just because they want to. It’s as simple as that. We use this phrase to describe a person who goes out of their way to aid others, even when it’s inconvenient for them.

I’ve also seen it used sarcastically to describe a person who’s kind of fake and puts on a show of being a good person. In this case, everyone around you probably understands that you’re being sarcastic, too.

Is Good Samaritan Capitalized?

Technically, the phrase good Samaritan doesn’t need to be capitalized. But because it’s linked to the Biblical story of the very first Good Samaritan, some publications do prefer it to be capitalized. The choice is yours, but consistency is always key in writing, so it’s best to go with the proper capitalization of Samaritan. No need to do so with the word good, though.

Origin and Etymology of Good Samaritan

Good Samaritan Ngram
Good Samaritan usage trend.

You probably already guessed that this common idiom comes from the Bible and the story of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke. The story outlines a Samaritan man who helps a traveler who’s been robbed and left for dead. Even a priest passes him by without any offer to help! It’s a great story of kindness and compassion when other people ignore the man’s predicament. It became a popular idiom sometime in the 1600s.

Good Samaritan Synonyms

If you’re looking for some variety in your vocabulary, I scrounged up a few synonyms you can use for good Samaritan.

  • Helper
  • Kind soul
  • Angel
  • Good person
  • Philanthropist
  • Benefactor

Good Samaritan Examples in a Sentence

What Is a Good Samaritan Idiom Meaning Origin 1

  • The good Samaritan saw the lost kid wandering the streets and immediately contacted the authorities.
  • I was thankful for the good Samaritan who helped me change my flat tire when I broke down in the middle of nowhere.
  • Amelia is always the good Samaritan, volunteering at the local shelter and helping the animals find good homes.
  • When I fell in the park and broke my ankle, a good Samaritan helped me get to the hospital and made sure I was okay.
  • During the huge storm we had in Newfoundland last year, good Samaritans across the province opened their homes to those who had lost theirs.
  • The man who found and returned my lost wallet was a real good Samaritan.
  • He’s the kind of good Samaritan who would give you his last dollar if you needed it.
  • The good Samaritan down the street rescued the neighbor’s cat from the tree.
  • My grandmother was a good Samaritan, always willing to lend a hand to those in need.

Always Be a Good Samaritan!

So, whether you choose to capitalize it or not, make sure to appreciate the good Samaritans in your life. Who knows? You might even feel inspired to play the part yourself. Now, excuse me while I perform my good Samaritan duty and save this half-eaten chocolate bar from going to waste!

Want to have more idioms in your arsenal? Check out some others we covered: