Have you ever used a phrase and someone did not know what you are talking about. For example, I was describing a person who was about to lose their job and said he “is on thin ice”. What does losing a job in July have to do with thin ice? The phrases (Colloquialism) are part of everyday conversations and we use them to better describe or emphasize the point you are making. Did you ever wonder where those expressions came from? Here are the origins of six of the top tooth sayings:
- By The Skin Of One’s Teeth-Found in the Book Of Job. Refers to the trials that he was put through and escaped “…with the skin of my teeth.” Which we use today to describe a -close call-.
- Long In The Tooth- This term originates with a reference to horses. Teeth of horses continue to grow with age and some claim to estimate how old a horse is by examining its teeth. The longer the teeth the older the horse, and we use that analogy when describing someone or something that is older.
- Bite Off More Than You Can Chew- This dates back to the 1800’s when chewing tobacco was common. Sometimes people bit off too big of a chunk of tobacco and ended up with a messy chin and an upset belly. So, they were warned not to “bite off more than they could chew”. This term is still used today to describe someone who has taken on more (work) than they can handle.
- As Scarce As Hen’s Teeth- This phrase has been around since the 1600’s and refers to the fact that hen’s teeth are rare indeed. In fact, they’re non-existent!
- Wisdom Teeth-The Ancient Greeks believed that you became an adult when you got a third set of molars (the farthest back molars). Adults were perceived as being wiser than children, so you were said to be wiser when these teeth came in. Sorry, having a wisdom tooth removed will not make you younger!
- Armed To The Teeth- Pirates needed to carry as many weapons as possible to defend their ships with because the old fashioned pistols they used could only fire once before they needed to be reloaded. So they would carry a pistol in each hand and often a knife between their teeth.
I hope you were able to sink your teeth into these rather than having to grin and bare it.