The English language has so many great, colorful expressions. But where did all these crazy sayings and odd analogies come from? We thought it would be fun to take a look at dental idioms. Idioms are phrases that have a figurative, or non-literal, meaning. They add a bit of flair to language and through repeated use have become commonly known and accepted shortcuts for expressing an idea.
Dental Idioms To Sink Your Teeth Into
Some well-known dental-themed idioms are easy to figure out, think of “having a sweet tooth,“”lying through your teeth,” or “pulling teeth.” But what’s the background of these less easily defined dental idioms?
“By the skin of your teeth“ – Meaning managing to do or accomplish something but only just barely, “by the skin of your teeth” is commonly believed to first be referenced in the book of Job in the Bible, although it’s meaning has changed slightly over time. Job loses everything and then says ” I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.” (Job 19:20), meaning that the skin of his teeth is all he has left.
“To fight tooth and nail“ – Meaning to battle or fight with great intensity and determination, this phrase alludes to biting (tooth) and scratching (nail) when fighting. This expression was first recorded in the 16th-century and somewhat more recently can be found in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield (1850): “I go at it tooth and nail.”
We didn’t want to “bite off more than we could chew” but here’s evidence enough to say there are so many dental idioms, we’re sure we’d get “long in the tooth” sharing them with you.