against the grain

against the grain

Meaning | Synonyms

  • a difficult path to be followed
  • something which is contradicting our wishes
  • action performed unwillingly
  • hard to accept or do something as it is against our rules
  • things we don’t do in the usual manner
  • in the opposite way or perpendicular to the direction of the fibers of something like a piece of wood, meat etc. See example number 6.

Example Sentences

  1. It is against the grain for me to tackle dishonest people.
  2. It goes against the grain to accept that she is going to change her bad behavior with others.
  3. Sometimes we must take steps that go against the grain.
  4. Carol is always loyal, and it went against the grain for her to become disloyal.
  5. John goes against the grain by making a cake instead of pizza this time.
  6. Don’t cut that wood against the grain, it will be rough around the edges.

Origin

This phrase came into existence long before Shakespeare started to write. One source suggests that it was used by a popular dramatist, very often. In 1607, this phrase was used by Shakespeare, in Coriolanus. This phrase makes an image of the grain in wood, in our minds. If it is designed in the wrong way, it will tear up rather than working smoothly. However, another theory says that it is related to carpentry. The lines which are present on the wood are called grains. To make it look smoother, the tool should be used “along” not “against” it.

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Idiom of the Day

put your foot in it

Meaning: say something (by mistake) that upsets, humiliates, or embarrasses someone

Example: Carla put her foot right in it when she congratulated her neighbour on being pregnant. It turns out she's not expecting but had just put on weight. Read on

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