Definition of tooth in English:



  • 1Each of a set of hard, bony enamel-coated structures in the jaws of most vertebrates, used for biting and chewing.

    ‘he clenched his teeth’
    [as modifier] before noun ‘tooth decay’
    • ‘The core structure of the tooth is composed of dentine.’
    • ‘You may lose both the wisdom tooth and the tooth next to it because of extensive decay.’
    • ‘These can expose your baby's teeth to harmful acids, which can attack the newly formed teeth and cause decay.’
    • ‘Close association of shark teeth with a vertebrate skeleton is yet another type of fossil record that may indicate shark feeding.’
    • ‘He sucked in his breath through his teeth, biting down hard to try and suppress the throbbing left behind by a revolver's bullet's passage.’
    • ‘If the teeth are not cleaned properly they may be vulnerable to tooth decay causing cavities, or to gum disease.’
    • ‘Titan triggerfish are armed with powerful jaws and teeth suitable for chewing bony corals divers should steer clear of them!’
    • ‘The sugar in milk and juices will eat at your child's teeth and may cause decay.’
    • ‘The pain is aggravated by eating, gum chewing, teeth clenching, or yawning.’
    • ‘There also will be worse staining of the teeth and some risk of tooth loss from caries because of the sugar in chewing tobacco.’
    • ‘It is easy for tiny amounts of food to get trapped in the tiny dents or fissures, and if you do not brush them thoroughly, bacteria can build up and start to decay the tooth.’
    • ‘Dental caries or sugar-bacterial tooth decay is largely preventable.’
    • ‘Wisdom teeth are the last teeth at each end of the upper and lower gums, at the very back of the mouth.’
    • ‘In nonmammalian vertebrates, tooth replacement is intimately related to growth.’
    • ‘Maxillary or posterior dentary teeth more recurved, denticles present on the anterior carinae.’
    • ‘Fluoride helps make teeth strong and prevents tooth decay.’
    • ‘Some malocclusions cannot be treated successfully without removing permanent teeth, though tooth removal is contraindicated in other situations.’
    • ‘The teeth are natural with occlusal amalgam fillings in teeth 30 and 31.’
    • ‘Red, swollen areas in a child's mouth or dark spots on the teeth are signs of tooth decay.’
    • ‘Dental caries occur when bacteria destroy the enamel surface of the tooth and cause decay.’
    fang, denticulation
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    1. 1.1Each of a number of hard, pointed structures in or around the mouth of some invertebrates, functioning in the physical breakdown of food.
    2. 1.2Genuine power or effectiveness of an organization or in a law or agreement.
      ‘the Charter would be fine if it had teeth and could be enforced’
      • ‘Corporations are attracted to the WTO to get business-friendly trade rules because it has teeth.’
      • ‘Many of the rules seem to lack teeth when it comes to punishing erring hospitals that continue to dump their waste with impunity.’
      • ‘I think Bingley needs a central organisation, with some teeth.’
      • ‘This is not like treaty claims, because the Maori Land Court will have teeth and power in a way that the Waitangi Tribunal does not.’
      • ‘If we want the UN to rule, we have to give the UN teeth: as you say, military power.’
      • ‘What teeth do police authorities have when they cannot challenge on operational matters?’
      • ‘The act gave teeth to a series of treaties designed to protect migratory birds, including the swan family, from extinction.’
      • ‘And the regulatory body that existed before he came to power, has no teeth and can't stop him.’
      • ‘It goes a little way to doing that, by giving the regulators some power and some teeth.’
      • ‘In fairness the industry and the Scottish executive now recognise there are problems, but tough regulatory controls with real teeth and sanctions are needed.’
    3. 1.3Used in curses or exclamations.
      ‘Hell's teeth!’
  • 2A projecting part on a tool or other instrument, especially one of a series that function or engage together, such as a cog on a gearwheel or a point on a saw.

    • ‘Desargues proposed cycloidal teeth for gear wheels in the 1630's.’
    • ‘A toothed rack rail is laid in the middle of the track on the slopes and the pinions attached to the engine engage with the teeth of the rack bars and enable the engine to pull itself and its load up.’
    prong, point, tine, cog, ratchet, sprocket
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    1. 2.1A projecting part on an animal or plant, especially one of a jagged or dentate row on the margin of a leaf or shell.
      • ‘Only a few shells measured had teeth or conspicuous apertural thickening, and these features were not measured in this study.’
      • ‘The margin of the aloe leaf is usually lifted with teeth having a sharp terminal spine on the end of each leaf.’
      • ‘There are close-ups of leaf teeth and scales, for examples, and composite photos of Quercus and Carya fruits.’
      • ‘The fleshy stems are angled with soft teeth, and no leaves.’
      • ‘The cone shell has modified teeth, like small poison-loaded harpoons, which it shoots out if disturbed.’
      • ‘The angiosperms range from small leaves with chloranthoid teeth to larger leaves of the Ficophyllum type.’
      • ‘Or a garden that had plants with teeth, rather than pretty petals.’
  • 3[in singular] An appetite or liking for a particular thing.

    ‘what a tooth for fruit a monkey has!’
  • 4[mass noun] Roughness given to a surface to allow colour or glue to adhere.

    ‘the paper used in copying machines is good as it has tooth and takes ink well’
    • ‘Slick surfaces often needed to be sanded to give them tooth so paint and other materials will adhere better.’


  • fight tooth and nail

    • Fight very fiercely.

      • ‘He did not know me from Adam, but he fought tooth and nail as if I was his property.’
      • ‘Both these teams were unbeaten going into this Division Two top of the table clash and it was easy to see why as both fought tooth and nail to maintain their respective 100 per cent records.’
      • ‘The Today programme is an agenda setting news programme, that I've fought tooth and nail and to be able to listen to in the ‘Ladies Gym’ - as they insist on calling it - in my gym.’
      • ‘‘We received our five star tidy town rating two years ago and fought tooth and nail to maintain it,’ he said.’
      • ‘She said: ‘We have fought tooth and nail for a new pool.’’
      • ‘The people who fought tooth and nail to keep VCRs off the market will have a veto over all new digital television devices, including digital television devices that interface with personal computers.’
      • ‘The CIA battles tooth and nail over material from fifty years ago.’
      • ‘When the oil industry appeared they fought it tooth and nail.’
      • ‘But the Ulster Champions were in no mood for waving white flags instead they got bodies behind the ball, pushed themselves that extra inch and fought tooth and nail not to concede.’
      • ‘Spain and Poland had fought tooth and nail over their voting status in the European Council as agreed in Nice in 2000, which gave them each almost the same number of votes as much more populous countries like Britain, France and Germany.’
      • ‘The Algerian and Egyptian governments have fought tooth and nail for years to prevent the installation of Islamic law as the only form of law in their countries.’
      • ‘And it must be remembered that each step from rhetoric to reality was fought tooth and nail by those who preferred the status quo, and often fought with eerily similar rhetoric.’
      • ‘He has fought tooth and nail to ensure the Parliament is more democratic, has more powers and is more relevant to people out there’.’
      • ‘The airlines fought tooth and nail against passenger-bag matching because it would slow down the check-in process.’
      • ‘Everyone fought tooth and nail to keep the families here and we thought they had a chance.’
      • ‘Since the industry has fought tooth and nail against mandatory COOL legislation, there is no way for them to know which chicken came from which kill plant.’
      • ‘The most hoggish CEOs of the year, though, are America's media moguls, who fought tooth and nail against a pay raise that was being sought by the people who write the scripts for their movies and TV shows.’
      • ‘They kept plugging away, fought tooth and nail for every ball, got stuck in when it mattered, kept the heads up, the only problem was their level of finesse simply eluded them on the day.’
      • ‘‘Every piece offered… they fought tooth and nail to keep it in,’ said one official involved in putting together the speech.’
      • ‘Pinned almost on their own line, Naas were unable to regain possession for almost nine agonising minutes of additional time as an heroic defence fought tooth and nail to keep the opposition out’
  • get (or sink) one's teeth into

    • Work energetically and productively on (a task)

      ‘the course gives students something to get their teeth into’
      • ‘And literary fiction has to have something that the present or prospective PhD students can get their teeth into.’
      • ‘It's meaty material and I think any actor loves to do stuff you can sink your teeth into.’
      • ‘This story has been a little dicier for reporters to sink their teeth into because frankly you don't know quite what you're getting into.’
      • ‘This is the kind of contest I can really sink my teeth into.’
      • ‘Old fans won't be disappointed but more importantly, new fans will find something worthwhile to sink their teeth into.’
      • ‘So if you desire a yummy book to sink your teeth into but can't commit to a Tolstoy, here is a list of five children's novels I have recently read and greatly enjoyed.’
      • ‘Occasionally along comes an example of populism run amok the critics can sink their teeth into.’
      • ‘With over 30 clubs and societies to choose from, there is plenty on offer in Sligo IT for students to get their teeth into.’
      • ‘And it really is playing against type, which my guess is, for you, really a role you could sink your teeth into.’
      • ‘He has only had supporting roles to date, but for this production was chief baddie, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and it was one he really got his teeth into.’
      • ‘My fingers drum on the desk as I pour over CNN and Newsday looking for stories to sink my teeth into.’
      • ‘To widen the choice for the guests and ensure that there are more than just juicy fish chunks for guests to sink their teeth into, buffet lunch and dinner are also being served during the festival days.’
      • ‘But do take a look, there is certainly something for you to sink your teeth into.’
      • ‘Serves me right for picking an easy read and not getting my teeth into something substantial.’
      • ‘For those who like a good laugh, there's a lot to sink your teeth into.’
      • ‘But set it during the October Crisis and that's something people can sink their teeth into.’
      • ‘Now there's a sociological exercise I could sink my teeth into.’
      • ‘What does enter my mind is when I see a particularly difficult challenge the country's facing and I see something that I disagree with, I think, Gosh, I wish I could sink my teeth into that.’
      • ‘Here are four ready-made trips to sink your teeth into.’
      • ‘If you love the minimalist adventurism of Kompakt but need just a little more sensitive pop structure to sink your teeth into, then this comp's for you.’
  • in the teeth of

    • 1Directly against (the wind)

      ‘in the teeth of the gale we set off for the farm’
      • ‘Yesterday was a very long day in the teeth of a cold wind and the occasional shower.’
      • ‘My brothers and sister and I would run out of the waves, blue with cold, get dressed in the teeth of whatever wind was blowing that day and retreat somewhere ‘out of the wind’ for a picnic lunch.’
      • ‘It's cold outside, and I won't be climbing those valleys today, in the teeth of that wind which always seems to be funnelling down from the colder heights.’
      • ‘Pam's life was full and happy; she took pleasure in natural history and the creation of a garden in the teeth of regular exposure to south westerly winds.’
      • ‘We were fishing right in the teeth of a big wind on Chateau Lake.’
      • ‘Some loon, an observer would say, mumbling to himself, clothing torn, hair matted with blood, the cut over his right eye probably still bleeding, staggering towards another impossible hill in the teeth of an impossible wind.’
      1. 1.1In spite of (opposition or difficulty)
        ‘the firm has expanded its building contracting division in the teeth of recession’
        • ‘Those committed to technological progress, therefore, are attempting to make their societies more just, more efficient and more productive in the teeth of religious opposition.’
        • ‘And secondly, I cannot imagine that it can be anything except deeply detrimental to do this in the teeth of Federation opposition, as opposed to through as much consultation and examination of the issues as possible.’
        • ‘Over 300,000 miners went out on strike to defend their living standards in the teeth of opposition from their union leaders.’
        • ‘Last year, the producers had agitated against this and had it removed in the teeth of opposition from exhibitors.’
        • ‘… The Prime Minister has been right, and brave, to introduce market pressures into higher education by pushing through university top-up fees in the teeth of opposition from his egalitarian Chancellor.’
        • ‘The sad outcome is that the operators could afford to fly in the teeth of all oppositions and put the system into use as scheduled.’
        • ‘For the first time in two generations there is the chance for a party that embodies those hopes to win parliamentary seats in England and Wales in the teeth of opposition by Labour Party leaders.’
        • ‘This has happened in the teeth of some very vocal opposition, mine included.’
        • ‘Tomorrow our minimum wage, the one we introduced in the teeth of Tory opposition is going up again - to £4.50.’
        • ‘We brought in the National Curriculum, testing, independent inspections and greater choice, all in the teeth of outright opposition from Labour.’
        • ‘The project began last Friday in the teeth of furious Polish opposition; the Poles regard it as a snub and stand to lose out financially because they will not be able to levy tariffs on the pipeline.’
        • ‘In virtually all cases this was pushed through from below, in the teeth of determined opposition from the national leaderships, particularly UNISON and the FBU.’
        • ‘But it is hard to imagine him miscalculating that it could be done in the teeth of active opposition from the other political parties, the electorate, and a somewhat sullen defence force.’
        • ‘Bradford Council awarded Brighton-based UZ a three-year contract to run the annual festival in the teeth of opposition from local organisers who founded the event and ran it on a not-for-profit basis for many years.’
        • ‘Plans to create a school at Wellesley Park in the teeth of fierce opposition led to huge protests.’
        • ‘The reform of local and central government was carried through in the teeth of opposition from the Milanese patricians, who lost their commanding position in the state's administration.’
        • ‘The Kirk is likely to approve limited embryo research in the teeth of determined opposition from traditionalists at this year's General Assembly.’
        • ‘One of the things about the Scots coming to Ulster in 1609 / 1610, was that they received grants of Plantation lands in the teeth of opposition of many English servitors in Ireland.’
        • ‘The approval, although recommended by the planning officers' report, came in the teeth of opposition from district councillors, parish councillors, residents and community groups.’
        • ‘Those who marched, therefore, did so out of a profound sense of conviction that this was an unjust war and a crime against humanity and in the teeth of almost universal opposition from the political establishment.’
  • set someone's teeth on edge

    • (especially of a harsh sound) cause someone to feel intense discomfort or irritation.

      ‘the grating sound set her teeth on edge’
      • ‘Some owls screech and scream their heads off, setting your teeth on edge and jangling your nerves.’
      • ‘This assumed connection between the sleeping and feeding habits of infants, and the parents' willingness to apply the appropriate degree of discipline, always sets my teeth on edge.’
      • ‘Even after all these years, loud eating is the one trait which still sets my teeth on edge.’
      • ‘From the moment they start playing carols in the shops in October to the appearance of the first Easter Eggs in the shops on New Years Eve, the rampant hypocrisy of the Christmas spirit sets your teeth on edge.’
      • ‘A similar thing happens to many humans - as soon as you detect the excruciating high-pitched whine of a dentist's drill, it sets your teeth on edge.’
      • ‘Every sound that filtered through the snow-laden branches set his teeth on edge.’
      • ‘Unless, of course, the sound of kids enjoying themselves sets your teeth on edge.’
      • ‘But something about the way these magazines photograph women sets my teeth on edge.’
      • ‘I have been thinking about this all day long, ever since someone made a stray remark about this investigation that just set my teeth on edge.’
      • ‘I hate beginning Monday mornings with the kind of irritation that sets my teeth on edge and makes me want to shout at the person concerned.’
      irritate, set someone's teeth on edge, jar
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Old English tōth (plural tēth), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch tand and German Zahn, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin dent-, Greek odont-.