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"Long in the Tooth" Explained for ESL Learners

Updated: Jan 21


The expression "long in the tooth" is a common idiom in English that means getting old or outdated. Imagine an old horse whose teeth have grown long due to wear and tear. Similarly, things that are "long in the tooth" have been around for a while and may be showing their age.

Here are some examples of how to use "long in the tooth":

  • That car is getting a bit long in the tooth. (The car is old and might need to be replaced.)

  • The restaurant's menu is a bit long in the tooth. They haven't updated it in years.

  • I'm a bit long in the tooth for that kind of activity. (I'm too old to do it anymore.)

Origins of the phrase:

The phrase "long in the tooth" first appeared in the 19th century. It was originally used to describe horses, whose teeth actually do grow longer as they age. The receding gums make the teeth appear even longer, which is why this became a sign of an old horse.

Tips for ESL learners:

  • "Long in the tooth" is a humorous way to describe something that is old. It's not a rude or offensive expression, but it can be a bit informal.

  • You can use "long in the tooth" for people, things, or ideas.

  • Remember that the phrase is metaphorical. It doesn't literally mean that something has long teeth.

Here are some additional examples to practice with:

  • My computer is getting a bit long in the tooth. I think it's time for a new one.

  • Your jokes are a bit long in the tooth. I've heard them all before.

  • The company's marketing strategy is a bit long in the tooth. They need to come up with something fresh.

By practicing with these examples, you can learn to use "long in the tooth" like a native English speaker. YouTube By Mr Russ

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