long in the tooth

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long in the tooth

Old. Animals' teeth, especially those of horses, are thought to be an indicator of age. As animals age, their gums recede, and their teeth look longer. Our poor cat is so long in the tooth that he struggles just walking around the house these days. She's a little long in the tooth to still be working—do you think she'll ever retire?
See also: long, tooth
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

long in the tooth

Fig. old. That actor is getting a little long in the tooth to play the romantic lead. I may be long in the tooth, but I'm not stupid.
See also: long, tooth
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

long in the tooth

Getting on in years, old, as in Aunt Aggie's a little long in the tooth to be helping us move. This expression alludes to a horse's gums receding with age and making the teeth appear longer. [Mid-1800s]
See also: long, tooth
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.

long in the tooth

If you describe someone or something as long in the tooth, you mean that they are getting old, often too old for a particular activity or purpose. I'm a bit long in the tooth to start being a student. Their cars are looking rather long in the tooth, with the last model launched over 10 years ago. Note: This expression refers to the fact that you can judge the age of a horse by looking at its teeth. As horses get older, their teeth look longer because their gums are receding.
See also: long, tooth
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

long in the tooth

rather old.
This phrase was originally used of horses, referring to the way their gums recede with age.
See also: long, tooth
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

(be) ˌlong in the ˈtooth

(humorous, especially British English) old: I’m a bit long in the tooth for all-night parties.This idiom refers to the fact that some animals’ teeth keep growing as they grow older.
See also: long, tooth
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

long in the tooth

Growing old.
See also: long, tooth
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

long in the tooth

Aging or old. This unflattering term alludes to the fact that a horse’s gums recede as it gets older, and transfers the same phenomenon to humankind. The transfer understandably is not very old, since until relatively recent times adults who were old enough to experience gum recession generally had lost most or all of their teeth. It dates from the nineteenth century. Thackeray used it in Henry Esmond (1852): “She was lean and yellow and long in the tooth.”
See also: long, tooth
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

long in the tooth

Old. Absent conclusive documentation, a horse's age is determined by the size and condition of its teeth, which show specific signs of growth or deterioration over the years. For example, a groove in an upper incisor usually first appears when a horse is ten, moves halfway down the tooth in five years, reaches the end in another five, and then begins to disappear. There are far more flattering ways to refer to someone as being “long in the tooth”—to the extent that any reference to age is flattering—such as the French euphemism “a woman of a certain age.”
See also: long, tooth
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
If you are moderately long of tooth, you might remember the classic Laugh-In line uttered by Artie Johnson: "Veerrry intieresstingk...!" I'll admit I'm that old--older probably, after spending 50-plus years doing leatherwork.
But - and maybe this is a generational thing for I am long of tooth and scarce of hair - I get peeved about the neglect of another local delicacy.
The reader must be a bit long of tooth (or missing most of them), or a long-time student of handgunning history to really appreciate this walk back into a past that can never be recreated, let alone topped.