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


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

You are watching: Lick a gift horse in the mouth meaning

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

Holidays are a exorbitant time the the year! They are a time when human being slow down and also take a rest from their day-to-day lives.

While holidays are commemorated in different ways, plenty of have miscellaneous in typical -- gift-giving!

And that doesn"t prefer to get a present. Covered in nice paper, possibly tied through a bow or ribbon, a sheathe gift is a surprise. It could be anything!

"Oh, you yes, really shouldn"t have!" is a common an answer when someone hand you a gift. Us say this even when we room thinking to ourselves, “Yay! I gained a present!”

Sometimes the gift is perfect.

"It"s simply what i have constantly wanted!" you can say.

Sometimes it"s not.

We have actually all been there. You happily tear open up a gift, wondering what is inside. Yet then you watch it and you are ... disappointed. Yet you have to not show it. And also you absolutely should not criticize the gift and also make comments around why friend don"t like it.

In other words, don"t watch a gift equine in the mouth.

This idiom is yes, really old.

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

However, some word professionals say the idiom is much older 보다 that. Yet old it is, people must have actually used it once gifting a horse was a typical thing.

To understand this idiom, us must recognize a bit about horse"s teeth. They prosper over time. So, check the length of the this is a method of learning the horse"s age. Back I have actually never given or obtained a horse, I"m guessing a young horse makes a far better gift 보다 an old one.

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

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

These days, horses are not usual gifts. Yet we frequently use this idiom.

Today "don’t (or never) look a gift steed in the mouth" means don"t uncover fault through something that has actually been got as a gift or favor. Nothing be ungrateful once you receive a present, even if it’s not specifically what friend wanted. If girlfriend complain around a gift someone has given you or a donate someone has done for you, you might be accused of looking a gift steed in the mouth.

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

Let"s say you questioning a girlfriend to help cook a dish for a party you room throwing because that a team of an elderly citizens in her neighborhood.

She comes to the dinner, smiling from ear come ear, and also hands you the dish she has actually cooked. The is really burnt and also it smells ... Odd. However you don"t desire to look a gift equine in the mouth. You thank her for she dish and also the time she required to make it. Climate you placed it on the table ... In the back ... Where world hopefully won’t check out it.

So, next time you get a gift that is less than perfect, remember the it is no nice to look a gift equine in the mouth. After all, it’s the thought that counts. This means that it"s the believed of gift-giving and also not the gift itself the is important.

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

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

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

I"m Anna Matteo.

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Peace on Earth, goodwill to men is the greatest gift of all.

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

Have you ever before received a gift that you no like? use the expressions you heard here to tell us about it in the comment Section!

Anna Matteo composed this story because that VOA finding out English. Hai carry out was the editor. The track at the finish is Kenny Rogers and also Dolly Parton to sing "The best Gift that 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 very closely woven cloth (as that silk or rayon) supplied for trimmings or web : a narrow cloth used for tie packages

disappointed v. feeling sad, unhappy, or displeased because something was no as good as expected or due to the fact that something friend hoped because that or supposed did not happen

idiom n. one expression the cannot be construed from the interpretations of its different words yet that has a separate meaning of the own

supposedly adv. declared to be true or actual

manners n. behavior if with various other people

embarrassed v. to do (a person, group, government, etc.) look at foolish in public