What does the idiom "grease sb's palm" mean?

grease sb's palm is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression grease sb's palm is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "grease sb's palm"


The idiom 'grease someone's palm' is used to describe the act of giving money or a bribe to someone in order to influence their behavior or to get something done. It is used primarily in a negative or derogatory manner, indicating a certain kind of corruption or underhanded behavior.


The idiom 'grease someone's palm' originated in the United States during the 1800s. It is likely derived from the practice of giving a hotel or restaurant worker a small amount of money, usually 'greased' in the palm of their hand, in order to ensure better service. In the 19th century, the phrase came to be used more broadly, to refer to any kind of bribery or corrupt behavior.


This idiom is used to describe the act of bribery, particularly in the context of government or business. It is also used to refer to some less scrupulous politicians or businessmen who rely on bribery to get ahead. It is not used in a positive or complimentary way, and usually implies a certain level of moral or ethical bankruptcy.

Example Sentences

  • The corrupt politician had to grease a few palms in order to get the necessary paperwork approved.
  • The company was caught trying to bribe the regulators in order to grease their palms.
  • I'm not sure what he was thinking when he decided to grease the mayor's palm.
  • The CEO was never afraid to grease a few palms to get what he wanted.

The meanings of the words in the "grease sb's palm" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


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