Eyeteeth – Meaning, Idiom & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Hearing a person say they’d give their eyeteeth for something just means they’d give up anything of value in order to obtain something else. It’s a peculiar phrase with an interesting history, so why don’t you stick around for a moment while I explain the details of this phrase’s origin and proper usage? I promise, no real tooth extractions are involved. Leave that for your dentist!

Is Eyeteeth One Word or Two?

Eyeteeth eye teeth vs eye teeth ngram
Eyeteeth, eye teeth and eye-teeth usage trend.

It’s supposed to be written as one word, eyeteeth. Just like the teeth themselves, it’s a lot easier when everything is close together, right? But you’ll find this term written as one word, two words, and even with a hyphen sometimes. Most official dictionaries show it as one word, but several medical journals use various spellings, so I guess it’s down to personal preference.

What Is the Meaning of Give My Eyeteeth?

Eyeteeth – Meaning Idiom Origin

Let’s dig a little deeper into this one. To give your eyeteeth for something means you’re willing to make a huge sacrifice or pay a high price to obtain it. This comes from the fact that your eyeteeth, or canines, are considered essential to your body. Lose one, and steak night will never be the same again.

Think of something you’d do anything to get. Taylor Swift tickets? Winning the lottery? If you come across something you’d metaphorically die to have, you can just say, “Man, I’d give my eyeteeth for that.”

Origin and Etymology Behind Give Your Eyeteeth

Give My Eyeteeth Ngram
Give my eyeteeth usage trend.

The phrase give your eyeteeth originated sometime in the 1800s. In a literal sense, the eyeteeth are your canine teeth, the pointy ones right under your eyes when you smile. So, they’re actually named this way because of their location, not because they help you see or anything. In the past, these teeth were considered vital for survival (biting and tearing food), making them a pretty hard thing to give up.

Synonyms for Give Your Eyeteeth

Looking for other ways to express your willingness to make sacrifices? Check out these alternatives:

  • Give your right arm
  • Pay through the nose
  • Sell my soul
  • Break the bank
  • Pay a king’s ransom

How to Use Give Your Eyeteeth: Examples in a Sentence

Eyeteeth – Meaning Idiom Origin 1

It’s pretty easy to understand when you see it in action. So here are a few full sentences showing how to properly apply this phrase.

  • I’d give my eyeteeth to backpack and travel the world for a year.
  • Andy would give his eyeteeth to secure that business deal he’s been working on for months.
  • Candace would give her eyeteeth for a chance to meet her favorite author, Sarah J. Maas.
  • I’d give my eyeteeth for a little more time to finish this book I’m currently writing.
  • I know my sister would give her eyeteeth for Taylor Swift tickets, so I’m going to surprise her for her birthday.
  • They’d give their eyeteeth for a beachfront house.
  • He’d give his eyeteeth to get a promotion.
  • I’d give my eyeteeth to own a classic muscle car.
  • She’d give her eyeteeth to meet her celebrity crush.
  • They’d give their eyeteeth to secure front-row tickets to the concert.

Dentures Not Included

We’re done! That’s give my eyeteeth in all its enigmatic, idiomatic glory. I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick guide and found it useful. Using colorful phrases like these can make your conversations more engaging and entertaining. I promise! Stick around for more fun breakdowns of idioms just like this one. We’ve got plenty!