One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Used with reference to a very thorough search or analysis of something.‘Cropper will have been through the manuscript with a toothcomb’‘the boys have been over the area with a fine toothcomb’
- ‘And even those who have gone through the figures with a fine fiscal toothcomb are still unsure that they can work out how it will all work.’
- ‘The Guardian's Book Review has a review of his new biography of the grumpiest man in popular music, which advises you to snap it up quick before Van's solicitors run their toothcombs over it.’
The forms toothcomb and fine toothcomb arose from a misreading of the compound noun fine-tooth comb, a comb with closely spaced teeth. However, in modern use all the forms are accepted in standard English
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