Sweet Tooth – Idiom, Meaning & 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.

During my pregnancy with my son, I wanted maple syrup on everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. I know that makes me super Canadian, but it also meant I had a serious sweet tooth. What’s a sweet tooth? I’m sure you’ve heard the term before, but I’ll explain its origin and proper usage right here in this quick guide.

Sweet Tooth Meaning

Sweet Tooth Idiom Meaning Origin 1

“Sweet tooth” is a common term we use in English to describe someone’s hankering for sweet foods or if they have a strong craving for sugary treats when they don’t normally eat sweet things.

It’s mostly used in an informal context and has no literal meaning. But it does make me think of my family dentist, who calls cavities “sweet teeth.”

So, Is It Sweet Teeth or Sweet Tooth?

The correct term you should use is “sweet tooth,” not “sweet teeth.” Although “tooth” has a plural form which is “teeth,” the idiomatic expression here remains in its singular, always. This is what we call a fixed idiomatic expression.

Origin of the Idiom Sweet Tooth

For this, we need to go all the way back to the 14th century and take a look at Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” in The Wife of Bath’s Prologue. He used the line right at the end and stated, “But I will keep it for your own sweet tooth. You are to blame, by God I tell the truth.

Back then, Chaucer was referring to an appetite or a liking of the taste of something, not necessarily something sweet. Over time, it just evolved to mean liking sweet treats.

What Are the Synonyms for Sweet Tooth

There are a few words and phrases you can use in place of the term sweet tooth, but not many.

  • Sugar craving
  • Fondness for sweets
  • Sugar hankering
  • Sweet-loving
  • Sugary appetite

How Do You Use Sweet Tooth in a Sentence?

Sweet Tooth Idiom Meaning Origin 2
  • My friend Jane has a major sweet tooth; she can never say no to a piece of chocolate cake.
  • Oh, no, my sweet tooth is acting up again, and I know I’m going to be making some cookies tonight.
  • When it comes to desserts of any kind, Tom’s sweet tooth is simply insatiable.
  • When I was pregnant, I had a major sweet tooth and put maple syrup on everything, even my meat.
  • It’s impossible for me to stick to a diet because I can’t say no to my sweet tooth.
  • I don’t care; I’m satisfying my sweet tooth after work today.
  • I guess my daughter has a bit of a sweet tooth because the dentist said she has a cavity.

Careful With the Sweets

Idioms are awesome for expanding your vocabulary, and they can help add some color to your writing, too. Ones like “sweet tooth” can be used in any sort of relaxed context when you want to refer to someone’s habit of eating treats and desserts. Check out our other idiom guides and add to your vocab today!