The English language is full of fun sayings and idioms that most of us understand even though they don’t actually make a lot of literal sense.
Here are some of our favorites that refer to our favorite subject; teeth!
Long In The Tooth
There’s an old saying that someone who is old is “long in the tooth”. This is based on the idea that teeth grow throughout our lifespans and are therefore longer the older we get. This isn’t actually true – after adult teeth come in during adolescence, they stop growing. The gums tend to recede and show more of the tooth, however, which gives the appearance that the teeth are getting longer over time.
Cut Your Teeth
The enamel on your teeth is actually the hardest substance in your body so it’s almost impossible to literally cut your teeth. This saying actually references new teeth “cutting” through the gums when they first come in. When you “cut your teeth” on something, you’re trying something out for the first time.
Scarce As Hen’s Teeth
The fact that hens have no teeth makes this one pretty obvious – if something is as scarce as something that doesn’t exist at all, well that’s pretty scarce!
Give Your Eyeteeth
The term “eyeteeth” neither refers to teeth in your eyes nor eyes in your teeth. Rather, your eyeteeth are your canines! The saying assumes that eyeteeth are very important and valuable. Therefore, to say you’d “give your eyeteeth” for something, means you very, very much want it!
Sink Your Teeth
This saying doesn’t actually have anything to do with whether or not teeth float or sink in water. To “sink your teeth” into something really means to bite down on it. If it’s food, then the meaning is clear. If it’s something else, like a job or a task, it simply means to start working on it in a determined way.