Sweeten the pot

Sweeten the pot is an idiom that is about 100 years old. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, in the same boat, bite the bullet, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom sweeten the pot, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Sweeten the pot means to make something more tempting, to make something more attractive. For instance, a car salesman might sweeten the pot by adding free floor mats to his offer to entice a customer to buy his car. Sweeten the pot is an idiom that has been in use since the early 1900s and is derived from gambling card games. The pot, in this instance, is the money that has been bet. One may sweeten the pot by adding to its value with a higher bet. Related expressions are sweetens the pot, sweetened the pot, sweetening the pot.


With few buyers, sellers were also forced to sweeten the pot, driving the WTI May contract into negative territory for the first time in history — as sellers paid buyers more than $30 a barrel to take delivery of the commodity. (Investor’s Business Daily)

To sweeten the pot even more, the winner of this episode’s challenge also lands a collaboration with the Puma label. (The Los Angeles Times)

She then sweetened the pot, adding she might be able to throw in “maybe a signed jersey, a smile and guaranteed good Karma.” (The Welland Tribune)

There’s also the possibility, if a team like the Seahawks or Titans sweetens the pot to come close to his revised price point, he will take the deal and sign on for the long haul. (Sports Illustrated)

Leave a Comment