born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘born with a silver spoon in one's mouth’ mean?

The idiom "born with a silver spoon in one's mouth" means to be born into a wealthy or privileged family and to have all the advantages that come with it.

Idiom Explorer

Silver Spoon Symbolizes Wealth

The idiom "born with a silver spoon in one's mouth" refers to someone who is born into a wealthy or privileged family. It suggests that this person has been privileged since birth and has had access to all the advantages that come with wealth and status. This idiom, though widely used, has a somewhat mysterious origin. While the exact origin of the phrase is uncertain, there are several theories as to its possible etymology.

One theory suggests that the phrase originated in the 17th century when wealthy families would give their newborns silver spoons as christening gifts. This symbolized the family's wealth and privilege, as silver was considered a valuable commodity at the time. Another theory posits that the phrase may have its roots in ancient Greece, where a silver spoon was often given as a birth gift to symbolize wealth and prosperity.

Another possibility is that the idiom draws from the historical association of silverware with the upper class. In the past, the wealthy were known to possess elaborate sets of silver cutlery, which were considered a sign of status and refinement. It is plausible that this association influenced the development of the idiom.

The idiom itself can be traced back at least to the 18th century, as it appears in several literary works from that era. In Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play, "The Rivals," written in 1775, one of the characters exclaims, "She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth!" This usage suggests that the idiom was already well-established by that time.

Throughout history, the idiom has remained popular in various cultures and has been translated into different languages, further highlighting its enduring significance. It serves as a metaphor for inherited wealth and privilege, implying that those who are born into privilege have advantages and opportunities that others do not.

He was born into wealth and privilege.

In addition to the idiom "born with a silver spoon in one's mouth," there are several related idioms that evoke similar themes of inherited wealth and privilege. One such idiom is "silver spoon," which refers to the idea of being born into a wealthy or privileged family. The phrase suggests that one's upbringing and social standing have provided them with opportunities and advantages that others may not have.

Another related idiom is "fall into one's lap," which implies receiving something valuable or desirable without effort or expectation. This phrase suggests that good fortune or opportunities can come to someone unexpectedly and easily, as if they were handed to them on a silver platter.

A third idiom related to the theme of privilege is "born and bred," which refers to someone who was born and raised in a particular place or social environment. This idiom highlights the influence that one's upbringing and background can have on their identity and experiences. It suggests that one's background is an integral part of who they are and shapes their perspectives and values.

Another idiom that relates to the concept of privilege is "come with the territory." This phrase suggests that certain benefits or drawbacks are inherent or expected in a particular situation or position. It implies that certain advantages or disadvantages are an inevitable part of a given circumstance or responsibility.

A final idiom that can be connected to the theme of privilege is "all one's taste is in one's mouth." This idiom suggests that one's personal preferences or standards are limited or narrow. It implies that someone's tastes or preferences are influenced by their narrow set of experiences or lack of exposure to different perspectives.

By exploring these related idioms, we can further understand the complexities and nuances of the idiom "born with a silver spoon in one's mouth." These idioms shed light on the various ways in which privilege and advantage can manifest in different contexts. They invite us to consider the role of circumstance and background in shaping individuals' opportunities and experiences, and prompt us to reflect on our own perspectives and biases.

Example usage

1. Despite being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, John worked hard to earn his success and built his own successful business.

2. She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, and as a result, she never had to worry about financial struggles.

3. The politician's opponents often criticize him for being out of touch with the struggles of the average citizen because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

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