The phrase “against the grain” is a phrase that you may encounter frequently in everyday conversation and writing. Here you will find the meaning of this phrase and the information regarding its origin. You will also find some examples of how to properly use this phrase in conversations/statements and discover other ways to say this phrase while still conveying the same meaning.
Against The Grain
Against The Grain Meaning
The phrase “against the grain” means that someone or something is acting in the opposite way than is normally considered acceptable.
Origin of this idiomatic expression
Although not certain, the idiom “against the grain” seems to have originated its meaning from the way Shakespeare used it in his play Coriolanus. This play was written in 1607. After Shakespeare’s use of the phrase, the word grain was recorded to mean a tendency or inclination to do something. Most people assume his use of the phrase for comparison came from grain in wood which makes a rough surface if you go against it when planning the wood.
“Against The Grain” Examples
A statement made in the local paper by a politician running for office.
- “My ways of debating with my opponent may go against the grain, but I do not believe in smear campaigns to make me look better than him.”
A statement made by a celebrity in an interview with a well-known entertainment magazine.
- “I find that occasionally it is good to go against the grain and do things in a way that everyone least expects. It keeps people on their toes.”
A conversation between a mother and her daughter.
- Daughter: Mom, I have got a problem and need to talk to you about it.
- Mother: Okay, what’s up?
- Daughter: My friends have been picking on this new girl at school for no reason and they keep trying to get me to say things too.
- Mother: Okay, and do you?
- Daughter: No. I see the way it makes her feel and I don’t want to take part in it, but I also don’t want to lose my friends either.
- Mother: Well, sometimes you have to go against the grain even if it means doing the hard things or losing your friends in the process. What they are doing to that girl is unfair.
A conversation between two co-workers in the office.
- Co-worker 1: We have been trying to fix this issue, but nothing we try is working.
- Co-worker 2: We have tried everything?
- Co-worker 1: All the things that normally work, yes.
- Co-worker 2: Well, let’s try things that go against the grain and see if any of them work.
Some other examples:
- I often have to make decisions that go against the grain.
- Mary is always honest and it went against the grain to tell lies.
- It really goes against the grain to have to work on a Sunday.
Other Ways to Say “Against The Grain”
Like all idiomatic phrases, there are many alternative ways to say the phrase “against the grain.” Some other ways to say this phrase include:
- Out of the ordinary
- Contrary to the proven ways to do things
- Try something outside the box
Against The Grain Meaning | Image