In the town of Vosava, Belarus, males prepare a horse and a sleigh come celebrate the brand-new Year top top January 13 follow to the Julian calendar, 2017.


Now, the VOA learning English regime Words and also Their Stories.

You are watching: Gift horse in the mouth origin

On this show, we discover the origins and usage of usual expressions in American English. Periodically we tie the show to an occasion or distinct time of the year. This show can be bound to any time the the year that features a holiday.

Holidays space a wonderful time of the year! They are a time when people slow down and also take a rest from their day-to-day lives.

While holidays are celebrated in various ways, plenty of have other in common -- gift-giving!

And who doesn"t choose to gain a present. Covered in nice paper, perhaps tied v a bow or ribbon, a wrapped gift is a surprise. It could be anything!

"Oh, you yes, really shouldn"t have!" is a common solution when someone hand you a gift. We say this also when we room thinking to ourselves, “Yay! I acquired a present!”

Sometimes the gift is perfect.

"It"s simply what ns have always wanted!" you can say.

Sometimes it"s not.

We have actually all been there. You happy tear open up a gift, wondering what is inside. However then you check out it and you are ... disappointed. Yet you must not present it. And you absolutely should not slam the gift and make comments about why you don"t like it.

In various other words, don"t look at a gift equine in the mouth.

This idiom is really old.

Way earlier in 1546, a guy named john Heywood supposedly offered this expression in some center English text. ("No guy ought to looke a geuen hors in the mouth.”)

However, part word specialists say the idiom is lot older 보다 that. Yet old the is, world must have actually used it as soon as gifting a steed was a usual thing.

To know this idiom, us must understand a bit around horse"s teeth. They prosper over time. So, check the size of the teeth is a method of knowing the horse"s age. Return I have never provided or obtained a horse, I"m guessing a young equine makes a much better gift than an old one.

However, check the horse"s mouth would be a sign of mistrust in the direction of the gift giver. This would be bad manners. And also it could make the giver feel embarrassed or also angry!

The polite point to do is simply to speak "thank you" and also accept the gift steed graciously.

These days, steeds are not usual gifts. However we frequently use this idiom.

Today "don’t (or never) look at a gift equine in the mouth" way don"t discover fault v something that has actually been got as a gift or favor. Don’t be ungrateful when you receive a present, even if that not exactly what girlfriend wanted. If you complain about a gift someone has offered you or a donate someone has actually done for you, you might be accused of spring a gift equine in the mouth.

Besides gifts, you can use this idiom for various other things, such together a favor.

Let"s say you asking a girlfriend to assist cook a dish because that a party you are throwing because that a group of an elderly citizens in her neighborhood.

She involves the dinner, laugh from ear to ear, and hands you the food she has actually cooked. It is very burnt and it smells ... Odd. But you don"t want to watch a gift horse in the mouth. You thank her for she dish and the time she required to make it. Climate you placed it top top the table ... In the back ... Where people hopefully won’t view it.

So, next time you gain a gift that is less than perfect, remember the it is no nice come look a gift horse in the mouth. ~ all, it’s the thought that counts. This method that it"s the assumed of gift-giving and not the gift itself that is important.

And don’t worry. If you get something as a gift that you yes, really don"t like, girlfriend can constantly pass it along to someone else who might actually favor it.

In other words, friend can always re-gift it!

And that"s the end of this Word and Their Stories!

I"m Anna Matteo.

See more: What Does Apap Stand For In Medical Terms, What Is Apap

Peace ~ above Earth, goodwill to guys is the greatest gift of all.

Peace top top Earth, goodwill to men is the best gift of all.

Have you ever received a gift the you no like? use the expressions you heard here to call us about it in the comments Section!

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA learning English. Hai perform was the editor. The tune at the finish is Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton to sing "The biggest Gift the All."


Words in This Story

bow n. a node made through one or much more loops ("Tie the ribbon in a bow.")

ribbon n. a flat or tubular narrow carefully woven towel (as the silk or rayon) offered for trimmings or web : a narrow towel used for tying packages

disappointed v. emotion sad, unhappy, or displeased because something was no as good as intended or because something girlfriend hoped for or expected did no happen

idiom n. an expression that cannot be taken from the interpretations of its different words however that has actually a separate an interpretation of that is own

supposedly adv. claimed to it is in true or actual

manners n. behavior when with various other people

embarrassed v. to make (a person, group, government, etc.) watch foolish in public