pull teeth(redirected from pulled his teeth)
1. To do something that is especially difficult, tedious, or requires an extreme amount of effort; to do something in the most difficult or unpleasant way possible. With this new way of preparing vegetables, you'll no longer have to pull teeth to get your kids to eat their greens! I've been pulling teeth trying to get my family members organized for this get together, but I think it will all be worth it!
2. To make someone or something less powerful, potent, or effective. A noun or pronoun is used between "pull" and "teeth." The watchdog did a great job keeping predatory loan sharks in check, but the new policy really pulled the agency's teeth. Corporate lobbyists are trying to pull the new law's teeth to give them greater leeway in the market.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.