worth your salt
worth your salt
- be capable or competent enough.
- be dependable or effective.
- be deserving of pay or remuneration
- add value in proportion to what one is paid.
- prove oneself through hard work or strong performance.
- demonstrate ability and skill.
- be loyal and dedicated.
- warrant the confidence and respect that comes with a position.
- meet or exceed expectations.
- You’ll only be worth your salt if you go above and beyond the call of duty.
- It’s the job where you only get how much you’re worth your salt.
- He proved himself to be worth his salt by completing the difficult task.
- New employees had to demonstrate that they were worth their salt.
- The veteran employees expected the recruits to prove themselves worth their salt.
- You need to handle the work to be worth your salt.
- She showed she was worth her salt by rising to the challenge.
- No one knew if the rookie was worth his salt until he got thrust into the starting lineup.
The phrase “worth your salt” originated during Roman times, when soldiers were sometimes paid for salt. Salt was an important preservative and valued commodity, so receiving it as pay was an important way to earn a living. Sal is the Latin word for salt, the English word salary is derived from the Latin salarium.
Soldiers who demonstrated courage and skill in battle proved themselves worthy of their salt ration. Over time, this evolved into a more general phrase meaning someone who is loyal, dependable, and merits the compensation they are given.
Salt was still a crucial preservative in medieval Europe and was highly taxed, so it remained an important part of soldiers’ pay and rations. The phrase took on a more figurative sense, with “salt” representing the value one provides through labor and service.
Those who exceeded expectations, showed strong performance, and warranted the confidence placed in them were said to be “worth their weight in salt.” It highlighted that they added value greater than their nominal pay or station suggested.
This idiom was later anglicized to the more common “worth your salt” used today. It continues to convey that someone has proven themselves capable and deserving of respect through skill, hard work, integrity, and competence. They have embodied the virtues their “salt,” or pay, was originally meant to represent.