Fight tooth and nail

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To fight tooth and nail is an idiom that is hundreds of years old. We will look at the definition of the phrase fight tooth and nail, where it comes from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To fight tooth and nail means to fight with all the tools at one’s disposal, to fight with all of one’s might. The idiom fight tooth and nail seems to have been in use long before it first appeared in print in 1562. In the work Certain Tractates, Ninian Winget writes “Contending with tuith and nail (as is the prouverb).” Since Winget refers to “tuith and nail” as a proverb, we may surmise that it was a well-known saying before 1562. It seems that the idiom to fight tooth and nail has an even older origin, as a popular ancient Latin phrase toto corpore atque omnibus ungulis, which means with all the body and with every nail.


Rather than trying to make Trump a better man and a so-called successful president, we should spend that time and energy fighting him tooth and nail, aided by a stronger Congress and an awakening public, when he pushes the destructive, dangerous policies he has promised to implement, such as pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, an action that would gravely threaten the health and lives of future generations. (The Boston Globe)

In my own lifetime, our streets were in chaos, our generations were fighting each other tooth and nail. (Vanity Fair Magazine)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull faces a tooth and nail fight with an emboldened opposition and slew of independent lawmakers when parliament returns on Tuesday for the first time since elections last month in which he took a beating. (Daily News & Analysis)