What Does the Expression “Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth” Mean and How Did the Idiom Originate?

It’s considered rude to examine a gift for value, and the expression “Never look a gift horse in the mouth” means just that.

The proverb has been traced to St. Jerome, who in 400 AD wrote a letter advising a disgruntled recipient of a gift of a horse to accept it in the spirit given without looking for flaws.

It was then, and is still, common practice to look into a newly acquired horse’s mouth, where you can tell its age by the condition of its teeth.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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