give one's eyeteeth for, to(redirected from to give one's eyeteeth for)
give (one's) eyeteeth for (something)
To go to any length or relinquish anything of value in order to obtain some specific thing in return. Almost always used after the modal verb "would." Oh, I would give my eyeteeth for curly hair like yours. She said she'd give her eyeteeth for a chance to meet the singer in person.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
give one's eyeteeth for, to
To yearn for; to go to any lengths to obtain. The eyeteeth, the upper canines, have been so called since the sixteenth century, presumably because their nerves are quite close to the eyes and a toothache in those teeth is felt as pain in that area. Since they are extremely useful for biting and chewing, giving up one’s eyeteeth entails a considerable sacrifice. However, this hyperbole most likely began life as to give one’s eyes, a greater sacrifice still. Anthony Trollope used it in Barchester Towers (1857): “Bertie would give his eyes to go with you.” Substituting eyeteeth, it is a safe guess, simply made the expression more colorful rather than affecting the underlying meaning in any way. It appeared in W. Somerset Maugham’s Cakes and Ale (1930): “He’d give his eyeteeth to have written a book half as good.” See also cut one's teeth on; give one's right arm.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer