People speak this when describing a literal, physics fight or a metaphorical fight. The analogy is obvious. If girlfriend fight tooth and also nail, you space fighting with every one of your fervor, scratching and also biting trying come win.

You are watching: What does tooth and nail mean

Origin that Fight Tooth and Nail

This idiom dates earlier to the 1500s and comes indigenous the idea that fighting like a wild beast. Animals don’t have weapons, so they hit with every little thing that they’ve got: your teeth and also nails.

Charles Dickens famously offered the expression in David Copperfield (1850):

I gained at the tooth and also nail.

Examples of Fight Tooth and Nail

In this conversation, 2 high institution students space talking about a conflict championship that newly occurred.

Lisa: Hey! how was the debate? did you guys win?

Jackie: Unfortunately, no. We lost.

Lisa: five no! What happened? You males practiced extremely hard.

Jackie: i know, and we fought tooth and nail. Us tried as hard as us could, yet the team we were competing against was just too good. They to be a lot better than us. We never had actually a chance.

Lisa: i’m sorry come hear that.

Jackie: Thanks!

In the dialogue below, 2 friends space discussing just how one of lock recently had actually to hit a mugger.

Seth: Hey, Jimmy, room you okay? What occurred to your eye?

Jimmy: Is my black color eye that obvious? I thought the bruise had actually healed enough that no one would notice.

Seth: It’s tho pretty noticeable. To be you in a fight?

Jimmy: Some guys tried come mug me critical week. They want to take my wallet.

Seth: and they win you up to gain your money?

Jimmy: castle tried! there were just two the them, for this reason I combated them tooth and also nail to gain them to leaving me alone. It lastly worked! ns glad i have been taking martial arts classes because that a long time!

More Examples

This excerpt is about European politics.

This excerpt reflects a quote from a male running in an election.

See more: What Do The Outer Planets Have In Common, What Do Inner And Outer Planets Have In Common


The expression to hit tooth and also nail means to use all one’s effort to win against someone or to overcome some problem.


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