Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

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Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth is a proverb, which is a well-known saying that expresses a universally accepted truth. We will explore the meaning of the proverb Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, its origins and some examples of its use in sentences.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth is an admonishment to be grateful when receiving a present and not to find fault with that present. A horse’s teeth change as it ages, and looking in its mouth is a good way to judge the health and value of a horse. To question the value of a gift is an insult. The oldest example of this proverb in English dates back to the mid-1500s, where the equine in question is called a given horse. However, St. Jerome sent a Letter to the Ephesians in the year 400, with the admonishment “Noli equi dentes inspicere donati” which translates as “Never inspect the teeth of a given horse”. It is astonishing to consider how old this proverb truly is.


“We didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, we took what was offered for free,” John Marini, the city’s corporation counsel, said. (The Valley Independent Sentinel)

“Like they say, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” Lucas said in a phone interview Thursday. (The Rockdale Citizen)

Never look a gift horse in the mouth says Taunton Fire Chief Timothy Bradshaw – especially when it provides free money to pay the salaries of seven new firefighters over the course of two years. (The Taunton Gazette)

Containing some of the most outrageous rhymes linked to the names of Shakespeare’s plays this is, as it has always been throughout the years, a real show stopper and Joseph and John were certainly not going to look such a gift horse in the mouth. (The Bristol Post)