comb

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a fine-tooth comb

A phrase used to describe a way of doing something that is very careful and thorough. We need to go through these files with a fine-tooth comb to find that missing paperwork. Make sure to go through your thesis with a fine-tooth comb before you hand it in—you don't want your advisors wading through proofreading errors, do you?
See also: comb

comb (something) for (someone or something)

To look through an area in an attempt to find someone or something in particular. We combed the wreckage for survivors but still haven't found any. I've been combing the house for my glasses—have you seen them?
See also: comb, for

comb (something) out of (something)

To remove something, such as debris or knots, from something by combing. My poor daughter cries every time I try to comb the tangles out of her hair.
See also: comb, of, out

comb out

To remove something, such as debris or knots, from something by combing. A noun or pronoun can be used between "comb" and "out." Honey, please stop screaming and let me finish combing the tangles out.
See also: comb, out

comb over

1. verb To search or inspect something or some place scrupulously. A noun or pronoun can be used between "comb" and "over." I combed over the entire beach, but I couldn't find my wedding ring anywhere. Our lawyers are combing the contract over, looking for anything we can use to our advantage.
2. verb To comb the longer hair on one side of one's head over to cover the top of one's head. A noun or pronoun can be used between "comb" and "over." I swore that if I ever started going bald, I would just shave my whole head rather than try combing my hair over.
3. noun A hairstyle in which longer hair on one side of one's head is combed across to cover the top of one's head, especially when a bald patch is present. Usually written with a hyphen. My grandpa always wore the silliest-looking comb-over, as if it would somehow disguise the fact that he was bald.
See also: comb, over

comb through (something)

1. To carefully look through an area or an item in an attempt to find someone or something. We combed through the wreckage but still haven't found any survivors. I combed through my bag in search of my glasses, and they were on my head the whole time!
2. To search through or inspect something scrupulously. Our lawyers are combing through the contract, looking for anything we can use to our advantage. I've been combing through my filing cabinet, but I can't find the documents anywhere.
See also: comb, through

cut (one's) comb

To humble someone who is acting arrogant. If he brags about his straight A's one more time, I'm going to remind him how bad his grades were last year. That should cut his comb! I'm really proud of this accomplishment, so stop trying to cut my comb!
See also: comb, cut

go over (something) with a fine-tooth comb

To scrutinize something; to look at something very carefully. We need to go over these files with a fine-tooth comb to find that missing paperwork. Make sure to go over your thesis with a fine-tooth comb before you hand it in—you don't want your advisors wading through proofreading errors, do you?
See also: comb, go, over

go through (something) with a fine-tooth comb

To scrutinize something; to look at something very carefully. We need to go through these files with a fine-tooth comb to find that missing paperwork. Make sure to go through your thesis with a fine-tooth comb before you hand it in—you don't want your advisors wading through proofreading errors, do you?
See also: comb, go, through

run a comb through (one's) hair

To tidy one's hair with a comb, especially in a hasty, imprecise manner. Let me just run a comb through my hair before we leave for our dinner reservation. I tried to run a comb through his hair before his school photos, but it was too much of a mess.
See also: comb, hair, run, through

search (something) with a fine-tooth comb

To scrutinize something; to examine or look at something very carefully. We need to search these files with a fine-tooth comb to find that missing paperwork. Police already searched the crime scene with a fine-tooth comb, but they didn't find a shred of evidence.
See also: comb, search

with a fine-tooth comb

Very carefully and thoroughly. We need to go through these files with a fine-tooth comb to find that missing paperwork. Make sure to go through your thesis with a fine-tooth comb before you hand it in—you don't want your advisors wading through proofreading errors, do you?
See also: comb
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

comb something for someone or something

Fig. to look all over or all through something for a particular person or thing. The police combed the entire neighborhood for the criminals. I combed the entire house for the missing paper.
See also: comb, for

comb something out of something

 and comb something out
to remove substances or knots and snarls from something by combing. I had to comb the gum out of her hair. It took me over an hour to comb out the gum.
See also: comb, of, out

comb through something

Fig. to look through something, examining it thoroughly. I combed through all my belongings, looking for the lost papers. The vet combed through the dog's coat, looking for tick bites.
See also: comb, through

go over something with a fine-tooth comb

 and search something with a fine-tooth comb; go through something with a fine-tooth comb
Fig. to search through something very carefully. I can't find my calculus book. I went over the whole place with a fine-tooth comb. I searched this place with a fine-tooth comb and didn't find my ring.
See also: comb, go, over

run a comb through something

to comb one's hair quickly. Run a comb through your hair after you come back in the house. She ran a comb through Timmy's hair, and tried to make him look presentable.
See also: comb, run, through
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

fine-tooth comb

A method of searching or investigating in minute detail, as in He examined the figures with a fine-tooth comb but found no errors. The practice of using a comb with close-set teeth to comb out head lice was transferred to various kinds of investigation in the late 1800s.
See also: comb
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

with a fine-tooth comb

or

with a fine-toothed comb

If you examine something with a fine-tooth comb or with a fine-toothed comb, you examine each small part of it very carefully. I have been through Ed's personal papers and letters with a fine-tooth comb. We will scrutinise our mistakes with a fine-toothed comb. Note: A fine-tooth comb is a comb with very thin teeth set very close together. It is used to remove lice and nits (= small insects and their eggs) from people's hair.
See also: comb
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

with a fine-tooth comb

(of examination or analysis) extremely thorough and detailed.
A literal fine-tooth comb is one with narrow teeth that are close together.
2003 CNN This budget has been gone over with a fine-tooth comb, and they don't see where another $3 billion or $4 billion in saving is going to come from.
See also: comb
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

go over/through something with a ˌfine-tooth ˈcomb

(informal) search or look at something very closely or carefully: I went through the accounts with a fine-tooth comb checking for mistakes.The police went through his room with a fine-tooth comb.
See also: comb, go, over, something, through
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

fine-tooth comb, to go over with a

To search for or investigate with scrupulous care. Although combs have been known since the time of ancient Egypt, and presumably some had finer teeth than others, the term “fine-tooth comb” dates only from the first half of the nineteenth century. The transfer of combing out nits to other kinds of search or investigation took place only in the late nineteenth century.
See also: go, over, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
The correlation between teeth gap and egg density was low (r = 0.2), perhaps the consequences of intentional cleaning of the combs in prehistory.
James envisions beekeepers fumigating combs after they've been removed from hive boxes and emptied of honey, but just before being placed in storage for the winter.
DeLeon's founder Brent Hocking, stated that both Diageo and Sean Combs shared his commitment to luxury and quality.
Comb jellies are gelatinous like jellyfish, but the similarity ends there.
Terminella and others also painted Combs as an intelligent, aggressive businessman whose bravado sometimes overshadowed a soft heart.
But in the microring the light is converted into a comb consisting of many frequencies with very nice equal spacing.
His attorney spent nearly two hours making that case to jurors during closing arguments Friday afternoon, trying to poke holes in the state's case using a life-sized manikin through which a defense forensic witness had thrust wire rods to show the location and trajectory of gunshot wounds to Combs' upper right chest, back, and the back of his hips.
Even before the most basic of details emerged about Combs, markets and critics had an opinion.
Throughout his life, Combs's shrewd business acumen has continued to surface alongside his relentless determination.
Is it possible, regarding combs, to draw any conclusions about who has mended or reused them, and why?
On Tuesday, Combs diedA in a crash in Oregon's Alvord Desert,A as confirmed by The Harney County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday.
Racing driver Jessi Combs, considered the "fastest woman on four wheels," was killed in a car accident trying to break her own record, police said Wednesday.
Jessi Combs was nicknamed the "fastest woman on four wheels." She died Tuesday in Oregon in a jet-powered car trying to become faster.
DECORATIVE hair combs were a key fashion accessory in the 1800s and early 1900s.
In very cold weather, chicken, especially cocks and cockerels, may experience death of some tissues of the comb resulting into what many people describe as blue, purple or black combs.Wattles, the ear-like organs that hang on the lower jaws of cocks, may also be affected.