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By the skin of one’s teeth

By the skin of one’s teeth is an idiom that has its origins thousands of years ago. We will look at the meaning of this odd idiom, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

By the skin of one’s teeth means just barely, by a narrow margin, just in time. The phrase by the skin of one’s teeth is found in the book of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible. Job is a character in the Bible who undergoes an abundance of suffering due to a challenge that Satan has made to God. Satan tries to break Job’s righteousness by bringing suffering upon him. Job laments his status through much of the book, including the phrase, “My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.” What exactly the phrase “escaped with the skin of my teeth” meant in Ancient Hebrew is unknown. It is assumed that the skin referred to in the term skin of my teeth is the enamel, though this is only a guess.


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Examples

And, by the skin of my teeth, I was kept on as a permanent CP employee, toiling on the rewrite desk at the organization’s headquarters in Toronto, where I worked with many news veterans, some of whom had made their considerable reputations as correspondents during the Second World War. (The National Post)

It has been confirmed that Billy Meehan was just a handful of votes short of holding his seat, with Bruno Petrenas holding on to 15th place by the skin of his teeth. (The Manawatu Standard)

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