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’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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 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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