The Silver Spoon and Its Relation To Wealth

The expression “silver spoon” is synonymous with wealth, especially inherited wealth. Someone born into a wealthy family is said to have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Before the place setting became popular around the 18th century, people brought their own spoons to the table. They carried their spoons the same way people today carry wallets. Ownership of a silver spoon was an indication of social class. In the Middle Ages, when farmers and craftsmen worked long hours and frequently got dirt under their fingernails, it was important not to be mistaken for them, so the silver spoon served as the functional equivalent of a passport. The phrase “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” first appeared in print in 1719.