Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
When my stepson was about 12, he said “Don’t lick a gift horse in the mouth.” Seems like good advice!
Just to add some documentation to maddog’s eggcorn, the following site discusses the original phrase:
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
As horses age their teeth begin to project further forward each year and so their age can be estimated by checking how prominent the teeth are. This incidentally is also the source of another teeth/age related phrase – long in the tooth.
The advice given in the ‘don’t look…’ proverb is: when given a present, be grateful for your good fortune and don’t look for more by examining it to assess its value.
My assessment is that “lick” and “look” are close enough in sound to substitute for one another in eggcorns. Also, given that many people did not previously know the origin of the phrase “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” I find “Don’t lick a gift horse in the mouth” a worthy eggcorn with more tangible imagery than the original.