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Denotation vs. Connotation

fine-tooth comb

[fahyn-tooth] /ˈfaɪnˌtuθ/
noun
1.
a comb having narrow, closely set teeth.
Idioms
2.
go over / through with a fine-tooth comb, to examine in close detail; search thoroughly; fine-comb:
The police went over the apartment with a fine-tooth comb.
Also, fine-toothed comb
[fahyn-tootht, -tooth d] /ˈfaɪnˌtuθt, -ˌtuðd/ (Show IPA)
.
Origin of fine-tooth comb
1830-1840
1830-40
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fine-tooth comb
Historical Examples
  • "Barrett, take six men and go to the head of Bar Creek and rake the brush like a fine-tooth comb," began Kline.

    Cattle-Ranch to College Russell Doubleday
  • At times he yearned for a fine-tooth comb and a safety razor.

    The Gay Gnani of Gingalee Florence Huntley
  • The lap is actually raked by a fine-tooth comb with needle-like teeth of steel ranging from 16 to 90 per inch.

  • You boasted that you went over the room with a fine-tooth comb, but who would think of looking on the under side of this table.

    On Secret Service William Nelson Taft
  • Oh, well rake the island with a fine-tooth comb, if we have to, cried Roger.

    Dave Porter on Cave Island Edward Stratemeyer
  • But I should like to go over the ship with a fine-tooth comb, and then I should like to go over outside, thoroughly.

    The Sky Trap Frank Belknap Long
  • The best thing though was a fine-tooth comb, which has been in constant use to-day.

    Diary of an Enlisted Man Lawrence Van Alstyne
  • Lombroso has combed history, as it were, with a fine-tooth comb, and very few geniuses have escaped his notice.

    Religion and Lust James Weir
  • She was setting on the lounge now, with the fine-tooth comb in her hand.

    The Man Next Door Emerson Hough
  • The only way to close the books on this matter fast is to cover the city with a fine-tooth comb.

    The Syndic C.M. Kornbluth
British Dictionary definitions for fine-tooth comb

fine-tooth comb

noun
1.
a comb with fine teeth set closely together
2.
go over with a fine-tooth comb, go over with a fine-toothed comb, go through with a fine-tooth comb, go through with a fine-toothed comb, to examine very thoroughly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Idioms and Phrases with fine-tooth comb

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.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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