salt of the earth

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Calque of Ancient Greek τὸ ἅλας τῆς γῆς (tò hálas tês gês) in the Book of Matthew, chapter 5, verse 13.


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salt of the earth (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic, archaic) A most worthy person.
    • 1611, King James version, Matthew, 5:13
      Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
  2. (idiomatic) A decent, dependable, unpretentious person.
    • 1853; The New York Times; Article 7; May 23, 1953
      Good men are the salt of the earth, and their deeds live after them.