I recently used this idiom to describe something and I had to rethink what it actually meant. In a nutshell, people would think that ‘rubbing salt in the wound’ would mean making things worse than it already is. That is because when you have an open wound on your skin, it already hurts. When you add salt, it would sting so bad and hurt even more.
I’ve tried it. It really is not a good feeling…
Then I remembered the only the reason why I added salt to my wound was that it would actually help the skin heal faster.
Though I’m not sure if it had helped much that time
My elders have told me to add some salt and when I asked why, they’d simply say “It’ll heal faster.”
Oh how I wish I hadn’t listen to them at that moment…
I later found out that they were indeed right. The salt helps create an antibacterial environment to help the wound recover faster. The salt would also help dry the wound as salt absorbs water.
So here is what’s confusing me, does the idiom ‘rubbing salt to the wound’ mean
MAKING THINGS WORSE (as the salt stings you more)
MAKING THINGS BETTER FASTER (as the salt makes the wound heal faster) ?
I asked my mother about this (she was the closest to me when I was pondering about this) and she told me that the idiom’s meaning is to make things worse.
So I guess it’s the literal meaning then. Not the deeper and more thoughtful meaning about how salt not only hurts you but helps you.
There you go.
Thank you, salt. For helping us in very painful way.
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