phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Tooth & Nail

Posted by ESC on May 02, 2003

In Reply to: Tooth & Nail posted by Pamela Winter on May 02, 2003

: Can someone help me find the origin of the phrase, "Fighting tooth and nail" or "Hanging on tooth & nail"? It's not listed in the website and nothing I've located comes close. Thanks!

FIGHTING TOOTH AND NAIL - "Fight fiercely, with all one's resources; cling tenaciously. A L*tin proverb expressed this thought as 'dentibus et vnguibus.' In the sense of fighting, it appeared in English in 1562 in Ninian Winget's 'Certain Tractates': 'Contending with tuith and nail (as is the prouverb).' In the sense of holding fast, it is equally old, as in Erasmus' 'Enchiridion Militis Christiani' : 'Take and holde this toth and nayle, that to be honour onely which springeth of true virtue.'" From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).