As he was going through the last village, there stood a scissors-grinder with his barrow; as his wheel whirred he sang --

"I sharpen scissors and quickly grind, My coat blows out in the wind behind." Hans stood still and looked at him; at last he spoke to him and said, "All's well with you, as you are so merry with your grinding." - "Yes," answered the scissors-grinder, "the trade has a golden foundation. A real grinder is a man who as often as he puts his hand into his pocket finds gold in it. But where did you buy that fine goose?"

This is a short story "Hans in Luck" from Grimms' Fairy Tales. Could you teacn me the meaning " the trade has a golden foundation "?

  • 2
    The "trade" is scissor-grinding", and "golden foundation" means a perfect basis for building one's occupation successfully. Could you be more specific which word(s) are troubling you?
    – user3169
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 19:22
  • It's not a native Anglophone thing to say. It's just a translation of a Danish proverb. For that reason, I think this question is essentially Off Topic in the context of learning English. Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 20:37
  • @FumbleFingers It's understandable in English whether you are familiar with the Danish proverb or not though, and the question gives enough context for someone to write an answer. It appears that there is a free e-book version of Grimm's fairy tales that a lot of learners are reading, so I'm reluctant to close these questions just because the language isn't usual. ell.stackexchange.com/q/91147/9161
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 0:38
  • @ColleenV: If it's "understandable", it's not worth posing as a question here. The translated version has no particular history or currency in an English context - the fact is it's trivial to interpret the (unfamiliar to most native speakers) metaphoric usage. Would a question asking the meaning of golden opportunity be On Topic? I don't think so. Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 2:03
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers Understandable for a fluent English speaker shouldn't make a question off-topic. I don't think it is as trivial as it looks for someone learning English - trade, golden, and foundation all have multiple definitions that might be hard to choose from. If I were to close this question, it would be because the asker doesn't explain why a dictionary didn't help and not because it's patently trivial. I suppose that's tomayto/tomahto though.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 2:56

1 Answer 1


"The trade has a golden foundation."

This basically means The trade (job) of the scissor-grinder (that of sharpening scissors) has a golden foundation (is very lucrative.)

The implication is that anyone who takes up the trade of sharpening scissors is going to make a lot of money. This is supported by the next sentence:

"A real grinder is a man who as often as he puts his hand into his pocket finds gold in it."

Meaning every time he puts his hand into his pocket, he has gold to retrieve.

In simpler terms, he never runs out of money.


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