long teeth

That’s what I thought: the expression “long in the tooth” was a euphemistic (if not polite) way of saying “old”. But more often I have found this expression used to mean “excessively talkative”.

Is this second usage correct – in that the one expression has both meanings? Or is the second used mistakenly for some other, similar expression?

The mailbag item to which the poster is referring is What’s the origin of “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”? (16-Aug-2000)

Eh, personally I’ve never heard anybody use “long in the tooth” to mean “talkative”. FWIW.

Who have you been talking to?

related thread: long in the tooth

BTW, I’m with DDG. Never heard it mean “talkative”.

I have always heard it as meaning older. I think it refers to older animals’ gums receding making their teeth look longer. The mistake some people make is that another saying goes “this story is getting a little long in the tooth” meaning it’s gone on too long(getting old), that gets cut in half and the original meaning is screwed up.

This reminds of a pet peeve of mine that I was actually able to come to grips with. Saying “I could care less” when meaning they couldn’t care less seemed to me not meant as sarcastic and therefore confusing. Reading a book from the thirties I found the full saying: “I know nothing [about whatever] and could care less”

Hmmmm… I always heard it used to signify someone who wasn’t getting any.

The analogy was not horses but beavers, whose teeth grow constantly and are worn down by use, to the point where if the animal is unable to gnaw normally for any reason, its teeth will actually continue growing until it can’t close its mouth. See Bib’s link.

Don’t know how gnawing = sex came about, but “long in the tooth” does have a literal meaning when it comes to beavers and many other rodents.

That’s the oddest version I’ve heard.

I think you will see from my last post that “long in the tooth” can be bastardized in many ways but it is always going to mean a long time(“my celebacy is getting long in the tooth”). It obviously relates to age and I would bet alot that it is in reference to receding gumlines of old age (you don’t guess beavers ages from tooth length but you do for horses).

I do frequently hear “long in the tooth” used to describe someone who is talkative. Never noticed the apparent change of meaning until now…