A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Tooth (noun)

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Tooth. n.s. plural teeth. [toð, Saxon; tand, Dutch.]

  1. The teeth are the hardest and smoothest bones of the body; they are formed in the cavities of the jaws, and about the seventh or eighth month after birth they begin to pierce the edge of the jaw, tear the periosteum and gums, which being very sensible create a violent pain: the dentes incisivi, or fore teeth of the upper jaw, appear first, and then those of the lower jaw, because they are the thinnest and the sharpest; after them come out the canini or eye teeth, and last of all the molores or grinders, because they are the thickest and bluntest: about the seventh year of age they are thrust out by new teeth which then begin to sprout, and if these teeth be lost they never grow again; but some have been observed to shed their teeth twice: about the one-and-twentieth year the two last of the molares spring up, and they are called dentes sapientiæ. Quincy.

                    Avaunt, you curs!
    Be thy mouth or black or white,
    Tooth that poisons if it bite.
    Shakesp. King Lear.

    Desert deserves with characters of brass
    A forted residence against the tooth of time,
    And razure of oblivion.
    Shakespeare.

    The teeth alone among the bones continue to grow in length during a man's whole life, as appears by the unsightly length of one tooth when its opposite happens to be pulled out. Ray on the Creation.

  2. Taste; palate.

    These are not dishes for thy dainty tooth;
    What, hast thou got an ulcer in thy mouth?
    Why stand'st thou picking?
    Dryden.

  3. A tine, prong, or blade, of any multifid instrument.

    The priests servant came while the flesh was in seething, with a flesh hook of three teeth. 1 Sam. ii. 13.

    I made an instrument in fashion of a comb, whose teeth, being in number sixteen, were about an inch and a half broad, and the intervals of the teeth about two inches wide. Newton's Opticks.

  4. The prominent part of wheels, by which they catch upon correspondent parts of other bodies.

    The edge whereon the teeth are is always made thicker than the back, because the back follows the edge. Moxon.

    In clocks, though the screws and teeth be never so smooth, yet if they be not oiled will hardly move, though you clog them with never so much weight; but apply a little oil they whirl about very swiftly with the tenth part of the force. Ray.

  5. Tooth and nail. With one's utmost violence; with every means of attack or defence.

    A lion and bear were at tooth and nail which should carry off a fawn. L'Estrange's Fables.

  6. To the Teeth. In open opposition.

    It warms the very sickness in my heart,
    That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,
    Thus diddest thou.
    Shakespeare's Hamlet.

                            The action lies
    In his true nature, and we ourselves compell'd,
    Ev'n to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
    To give in evidence.
    Shakespeare.

    The way to our horses lies back again by the house, and then we shall meet 'em full in the teeth. Dryden.

  7. To cast in the Teeth. To insult by open exprobration.

    A wise body's part it were not to put out his fire, because his fond and foolish neighbour, from whom he borrowed wherewith to kindle it, might cast him therewith in the teeth, saying, were it not for me thou wouldst freeze, and not be able to heat thyself. Hooker, b. iv.

  8. In spite of the teeth. Notwithstanding threats expressed by shewing teeth; notwithstanding any power of injury or defence.

    The guiltiness of my mind drove the grossness of the foppery into a received belief, in despight of the teeth of all rhime and reason, that they were fairies. Shakespeare.

    The only way is not to grumble at the lot they must bear in spite of their teeth. L'Estrange.

Sources: The Bible - 1. Samuel (18) · Dryden, John (788) · Shakespeare's Hamlet (60) · Hooker, Richard (175) · Shakespeare's King Lear (144) · L'Estrange, Roger (131) · Shakespeare's Measure for Measure (39) · Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor (95) · Moxon, Joseph (21) · Newton, Isaac (40) · Quincy, John (60) · Ray, John (59)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Tooth (noun)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: November 16, 2012. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=4244.


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