Updated: Apr 6
Literally translated as, putting in one’s grain of salt, mettre son grain de sel means interfering with a conversation or situation with an unsollicited comment or opinion. It is a colloquial expression that is somewhat similar to the American English idiom, adding one’s two cents or sticking one's nose in. Depending on the context, a person’s urge to slip in his grain of salt can be seen in a positive light (outspoken/endearing) or, more often, a negative one (meddlesome/annoying).
Note: Mettre son grain de sel is NOT equivalent to take something with a grain of salt, which in French is best translated as ne pas prendre quelque chose au pied de la lettre.
The expression originally comes..... from Belgium! The first reference is found in Laurent Joseph Remacle’s Walloon-to-French dictionary, first published in 1823, under the entry mett si grain d’sé, which would indicate that it started as a regional expression, and was later adopted more broadly. The expression entered French dictionaries at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Originally, the grain of salt in question symbolized a witticism, a bon mot thrown into a conversation to liven it up, as salt does a dish. But in this expression, it evolved to mean any remark or involvement that seems more necessary to the person who offers it than to its recipient.
Il ne peut pas s'empêcher de mettre son grain de sel.
He can't help butting in.
Vous etes tous invités à mettre votre grain de sel si vous le souhaitez.
You are all invited to chime in if you wish to.