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Definition of Idiomatic Expressions


What does grease someone's palm mean?

Meaning of idioms with examples...

grease someone's palm


If you grease someone's palm, you bribe them discretely.

The origin of the idiom

This idiom evolved from the expression to grease the wheels. Wheels normally need grease so that they can turn smoothly without squeaking and getting stuck. Similarly, greasing someone’s palm metaphorically means slipping money into their hand discreetly in order to get things done.


Howard got the document signed by greasing the clerk's palm.
John greased the waiter's palm to get a hotel room without a reservation.
The company they run greased the minister's palm to get their products in the market without any formal control.


I was never guilty of disloyalty to King Lewis, but I killed my wife's mother, pardieu!—which the judge seemed to think almost as vile, till I sent a friend to grease his palm with the last sou of my patrimony.
1891, Arthur Quiller-Couch, chapter 11, in The Blue Pavilions:

This idiom is in the parts of the body category

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