Grist FOR the mill

Posted by ESC on June 10, 2004

In Reply to: Grist posted by Windy on June 10, 2004

: : : I have heard the phrase "gris to the mill" hundreds of times in the West Midlands. My understanding is that it means 'more evidence' or 'something else that helps' or something like that.
: : : Does anyone know where the phrase comes from? I guess it originated in the northern mills, but it would be great to know the real origin of the phrase.

: : It is grist (grain) that gets to the mill and produces flour for sustenance or provides profit from the sale thereof.

: : I don't know the origin as a metaphor - wouldn't be surprised if it was first said by or to a miller.

: '(more) grist to the mill' means more material to work with. can be used in the same sense as 'fuel to the fire', but not inevitably.

GRIST FOR THE MILL -- "Something I can use. 'Grist' has almost lost its once-familiar meaning of grain taken to a mill to be ground. It lingers only in the figurative meaning, which was around by 1655, when it appeared in Thomas Fuller's 'The Church-History of Britain': 'And here foreign casuists bring in a bundle of mortal sins, all grist for their own mill.'" From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Wings Books, Originally New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985).

Another reference says "grist" is Old English, action of grinding, grain to be ground (before 1000); related to grindan, to grind. From The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology by Robert K. Barnhart (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1995).

See also: the meaning and origin of 'grist to the mill'.