against the grain

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  • IPA(key): /əˈɡɛnst ðə ɡɹeɪn/
  • (file)

Prepositional phrase[edit]

against the grain

  1. (woodworking, of sanding or planing a piece of wood) Preventing a smooth, level surface from being formed by raising the nap of the wood or causing larger splinters to form ahead of the cutting tool below the cutting surface.
  2. (idiomatic) Contrary to what is expected; especially, of behavior different from what society expects.
    By going against the grain and going to work nude, you've made yourself a laughing stock.
  3. (idiomatic) Unwillingly, reluctantly; contrary to one's nature.
    It went much against the grain with him
    • 1608, William Shakespeare, Coriolanus
      Say, you chose him / More after our commandment than as guided / By your own true affections, and that your minds, / Preoccupied with what you rather must do / Than what you should, made you against the grain / To voice him consul: lay the fault on us.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The expression allows possessive pronouns and certain determiners to replace the and grain to be plural.


See also[edit]