Good Samaritan (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Good Samaritan"?

The term "good Samaritan" means someone who helps others without any thought of reward.
Good Samaritan (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • I was saved by a good Samaritan, who put a blanket on me and called an ambulance.
  • He's a serial good Samaritan. Every time he sees someone in need, he automatically helps.
  • A good Samaritan was killed this morning by a passing truck as he helped a lady whose car had broken down.
The term "good Samaritan" originates from the Bible, specifically the Gospel of Luke:

The parable of the good Samaritan

  • "But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him."
  • (Gospel of Luke: Chapter 10: Verse 33)
Told by Jesus, the parable of the good Samaritan is about a traveller (understood to be Jewish) who is stripped of his clothing, beaten, and left half dead by the road. When a Jewish priest and then a Levite [a man from the Hebrew tribe of Levi] come by, they both ignore the man. Eventually, a Samaritan comes across the man, and, even though Samaritans and Jews despised each other, the Samaritan helps him.

Most claim the purpose of this story is to promote the ethics of neighbourly love, while others consider the parable to be an allegory, with the Samaritan representing Jesus and the Jew representing a sinful soul.
The Gospel of Luke was written in the first century. However, the use of the term "good Samaritan" to mean someone who helps with no thought of reward only started to become popular in the mid-1600s.

From a grammatical perspective, "Samaritan" is written with a capital letter. As it means someone who comes from Samaria, it is a proper noun. (NB: Samaria is the ancient, historic, biblical name used for the central region of the Land of Israel.)

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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