rub salt in the wound

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Alternative forms[edit]


Derived from the stinging sensation of salt deliberately being rubbed into an open, bleeding wound.


  • (file)


rub salt in the wound (third-person singular simple present rubs salt in the wound, present participle rubbing salt in the wound, simple past and past participle rubbed salt in the wound)

  1. (idiomatic) To make an injury, physical or emotional, feel worse.
    Synonyms: add insult to injury, kick someone when they are down, twist the knife, rub it in; see also Thesaurus:make matters worse

Usage notes[edit]

  • For rub, one can substitute verbs such as add, pour, put, possibly requiring a change in the preposition in.
  • See salt in the wound for variations in that portion of the expression.