Did someone say they did something ‘by the skin of my teeth’? Are you wondering what this phrase means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the definition and origin and provide some examples of how to use the phrase in a sentence correctly.
- ‘By the skin of my teeth’ means just barely or very narrowly.
Essentially, it means that someone had trouble completing something, but they were successful in completing it.
What Does ‘By the Skin of My Teeth’ Mean?
‘By the skin of my teeth’ means just barely or very narrowly. The phrase is used when someone just barely completes or does something.
You might hear people say it when they almost didn’t complete a task or almost didn’t make it someplace in time.
They might say:
‘I made it by the skin of my teeth.’
If you’ve ever seen cartoons where animals seem to narrowly escape those deathly traps. They do so ‘by the skin of their teeth.’
Where Does ‘By the Skin of My Teeth’ Come From?
The phrase ‘by the skin of my teeth’ comes from the Bible back in 1560.
In the King James Version, Job 19:20 says:
‘My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped by the skin of my teeth.’
In the Geneva Bible, the phrase reads:
‘I have escaped with the skinne of my tethe.’
Examples of ‘By the Skin of My Teeth’ in Sentences
How would you use ‘by the skin of my teeth’ in a sentence?
Let’s look at some examples:
- He escaped the police by the skin of his teeth. If only he could find a way to prove to them that he was innocent, maybe he could get them to stop coming after him.
- The thieves made it out of the apartment building by the skin of their teeth. One of them almost didn’t make it out.
- I passed my test by the skin of my teeth. I didn’t even realize that there would be a pop quiz that day, but I still managed to pass somehow.
- I won the race by the skin of my teeth. The second-place winner was right on my tail, but I sped past him using my turbo engine.
- I passed high school by the skin of my teeth. I wasn’t even really trying, but somehow, I got my diploma.
- I made it to the bank by the skin of my teeth. The teller was just about to close her window, and the branch was about to close in five minutes, but luckily, she took me.
- I submitted my online assignment by the skin of my teeth. There were only seconds left before the deadline, but I submitted it on time. I’m so proud of myself for not losing my login.
It can also be said about others. Here are some more examples:
- They barely escaped by the skin of their teeth.
- She missed the deadline by the skin of her teeth.
- We were passed over by the skin of our teeth.
- The bullet just missed him by the skin of his teeth.
Other Ways to Say ‘By the Skin of My Teeth’
What other words and phrases convey the same meaning as ‘by the skin of my teeth’?
Here are a few examples:
- By a narrow margin
- By a hair’s breadth
- By a whisker
- By a hair
- By inches
- Just barely
- Only just
- By a nose
- No more than
- By a very small margin
- Just possibly
- Only with effort
- As little as
- At best
- Practically not
- Almost inconceivably
- Not markedly
- Not by much
- A little
- To some extent
- On a small scale
- One in a blue moon
- With no time to spare
- With no time left over
- Without time to spare
- At the last minute
- At the last moment
- At the last second
- In the nick of time
- Just in time
- Not notably
Concluding Thoughts on ‘By the Skin of My Teeth’
To recap, we learned the following:
- ‘By the skin of my teeth’ is a phrase people use to mean just barely or very narrowly.
Remember, it means that someone had trouble completing something but that they were successful in completing it.
If you ever get stuck on anything or forget the meaning, you can always come back here to review what you learned. We’ve also got a ton of other content on Idioms you might find useful as you’re learning the language. Feel free to check it out anytime.