don't look a gift horse in the mouth

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Alternative forms[edit]


Calque of Latin expressions such as equi dentes inspicere donati (to inspect the teeth of a provided horse) in St. Jerome's c. 400 Preface to the Commentaries of the Letter to the Ephesians (Commentariorum in Epistolam ad Ephesios Libri Tres), which designates it as a "common proverb" (vulgare proverbium). The ultimate referrent is inspection of horses' teeth as a way of ascertaining their age and value.


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don't look a gift horse in the mouth

  1. One should not unappreciatively question or inspect a gift too closely.
    • 1546, John Heywood, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      No man ought to looke a geuen hors in the mouth.
    • 1663, Samuel Butler, Hudibras:
      He ne’er consider'd it, as loth
      To look a Gift-horse in the mouth.


Related terms[edit]


See also[edit]


  • Gregory Y. Titelman, Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings, 1996, →ISBN, p. 69.