While we are on the subject of metals and idioms derived from them, it is essential that we also take a quick look at the precious metals--silver and gold--since they are a rich source of interesting idioms. Let us start with silver.

Thirty pieces of silver: The origin of this phrase can be found in the Bible. You might remember that Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples, named Judas. Judas accepted a bribe to hand Jesus over to his persecutors. The bribe, we are told, was ‘thirty pieces of silver.' As you can imagine, this phrase is now used to refer to a betrayal from someone who sells you out. For example, if you are extremely upset with a friend over something he has done, you might say, ‘I don't think he will want to face me again, unless he wants to show off the thirty pieces of silver he just got.' This is actually not a very common phrase, but you are sure to come across it being used occasionally--especially on television shows and in movies, so it is helpful to be aware of the context in which it would be used.

Born with a silver spoon in one's mouth: The phrase above has come about solely because silver is perceived to be precious and valuable--something that represents temptation and wealth. Another context in which the word silver refers to wealth is the idiom born with a silver spoon in one's mouth. Someone who is born with a silver spoon in their mouth is a person who is born into a lot of wealth. The reference to silver spoon is simply a way to invoke an image that suggests a lot of wealth. You can use this expression in sentences such as: ‘He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and he had to work very hard, but he has today gone on to create a formidable business empire.' This idiom typically implies that someone born with a silver spoon is someone who is wealthy, and has led a privileged life.

On a silver platter: This idiom takes the concept of ease and privilege from the previous phrase one step further. When something is handed to you on a silver platter, the implication is that you did not work very hard for it, and things worked out easily for you, without a lot of struggle. Here is an example: ‘When he finished college, he immediately got a job at a reputed company--it seemed like a career break had been handed to him on a silver platter.' This expression is often used in sentences that refer to lost or wasted opportunities.

Nilesh Jahagirdar,

nilesh@skillspark.com