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To lie in one's teeth

Posted by Phil kirkley on July 08, 2004

In Reply to: To lie in one's teeth posted by ESC on June 09, 2004

: : : The meaning I'm not at all sure about and the origin I can only speculate about - wildly. Is there help out there?

: : I have always assumed that lying through one's teeth was just an emphatic way of saying "lying." I don't know what is meant in particular by "through one's teeth," and have been unable to discover it. Perhaps someone else will be able to elucidate. If I can see someone's teeth then he must be lying to my face. But I doubt that that is the meaning of "through his teeth." The OED mentions lying "in his teeth," but without any further information. SS

: I found this, a slightly different phrase, but it doesn't really explain it. And I couldn't find out what "amidward" means.

: TO LIE IN ONE'S TEETH - "To accuse a person of lying in his teeth is the strongest of accusations, implying that the person is such a double-dyed liar as to be unfamiliar with truth. It is very old traceable to the early 1300s, as in 'The romances of Sir Guy of Warwick,' 'Thou liest amidward and therefore have though maugreth (shown ill will).'"
: From "Hog on Ice & Other Curious Expressions" (1948, Harper & Row) by Charles Earle Funk.

I have always presumed this was a visual self-evident thing - if one lies through one's teeth, they must be gritted, so the liar must be fully aware of the enormity of the consequences of the lie, but is going to do it anyway - so that is, "to lie in full knowledge of the unjust consequences, in order to gain unfair advantage".