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


Now, the VOA learning English program Words and Their Stories.

You are watching: Kick a gift horse in the mouth

On this show, we explore the origins and usage of typical expressions in American English. Occasionally we tie the show to an event or unique time of the year. This show can be bound to any kind of time of the year that features a holiday.

Holidays are a wonderful time that the year! They are a time when civilization slow down and also take a break from their day-to-day lives.

While holidays are celebrated in different ways, countless have miscellaneous in usual -- gift-giving!

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

"Oh, you really shouldn"t have!" is a common solution when someone hands you a gift. We say this even when we space thinking to ourselves, “Yay! I got a present!”

Sometimes the gift is perfect.

"It"s just what i have constantly wanted!" you might say.

Sometimes it"s not.

We have all been there. You happy tear open a gift, wondering what is inside. However then you watch it and also you room ... disappointed. But you need to not display it. And you absolutely must not slam the gift and also make comments around why you don"t like it.

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

This idiom is really old.

Way earlier in 1546, a man named man Heywood supposedly used this phrase in some center English text. ("No man ought come looke a geuen hors in the mouth.”)

However, some word professionals say the idiom is lot older 보다 that. However old that is, human being must have used it as soon as gifting a equine was a typical thing.

To know this idiom, us must know a bit about horse"s teeth. They thrive over time. So, checking the size of the teeth is a way of discovering the horse"s age. Return I have actually never offered or obtained a horse, I"m guessing a young horse makes a far better gift than an old one.

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

The polite point to perform is merely to to speak "thank you" and accept the gift horse graciously.

These days, horses are not common gifts. But we typically use this idiom.

Today "don’t (or never) look a gift steed in the mouth" means don"t find fault with something that has actually been got as a gift or favor. Nothing be ungrateful once you obtain a present, also if it’s not exactly what friend wanted. If girlfriend complain around a gift someone has provided you or a favor someone has done for you, you can be accused of feather a gift horse in the mouth.

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

Let"s speak you asking a friend to help cook a dish because that a party you room throwing because that a team of senior citizens in her neighborhood.

She concerns the dinner, laugh from ear to ear, and hands girlfriend the food she has actually cooked. That is really burnt and it smells ... Odd. Yet you don"t want to watch a gift equine in the mouth. You say thanks to her for her dish and the time she took to make it. Then you put it on the table ... In the earlier ... Where civilization hopefully won’t watch it.

So, following time you acquire a gift the is much less than perfect, remember that it is no nice to look a gift horse in the mouth. ~ all, it’s the assumed that counts. This way that it"s the thought of gift-giving and also not the gift itself that is important.

And nothing worry. If you obtain something as a gift the you really don"t like, girlfriend can always pass it follow me to someone rather who may actually choose 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 the all.

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

Have you ever before received a gift the you didn’t like? usage the expression you heard below to tell us about it in the comments Section!

Anna Matteo composed this story for VOA discovering English. Hai do was the editor. The tune at the finish is Kenny Rogers and also Dolly Parton to sing "The greatest Gift of All."


Words in This Story

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

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

disappointed v. emotion sad, unhappy, or displeased since something was no as great as meant or since something friend hoped because that or intended did not happen

idiom n. an expression that cannot be interpreted from the definitions of its separate words but that has actually a separate meaning of that is own

supposedly adv. claimed to be true or genuine

manners n. behavior while with various other people

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