What does salad days mean? I've heard the term used to describe past better days, but what does that have to do with salad?

Also, when was the phrase coined?


It refers to the time of youth when one was naive and inexperienced, and therefore happy and optimistic - in other words, when one was "green," as in "unripe" or "not yet mature." It's a bit of a convoluted pun.

Like so many English idioms, the term was coined by Shakespeare in the 17th century (Antony and Cleopatra.)

  • 6
    Shakespeare make a pun?? Say it ain't so!! :-D – Marthaª Nov 18 '10 at 14:52
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    If one equated life as a multi-course meal, the salad course comes early if not first. – curt Nov 20 '10 at 16:28
  • @curt: the position of the salad course in a meal varies among European countries, and has changed over time as well… So that might or might not be an extra layer of cleverness in Shakespeare’s pun. – PLL Jan 16 '11 at 18:56
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    Salad course? The best way to enjoy a vegetarian diet is to feed it to the cow. – Brian Hooper Jan 16 '11 at 19:30

Just agreeing with @PyroTyger, with the actual quote:

Charmian: By your most gracious pardon, I sing but after you.

Cleopatra: My salad days, When I was green in judgment, cold in blood, To say as I said then!


It also implies that, being young, you're also poor and cannot afford meat but eat salad. These days you can refer them as, "Ramen Days".

protected by Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 15 '17 at 19:14

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