look a gift horse in the mouth

Idioms & Phrases

look a gift horse in the mouth

Be critical or suspicious of something received at no cost. For example, Dad's old car is full of dents, but we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. This term, generally expressed as a cautionary proverb (Don't look a gift horse in the mouth), has been traced to the writings of the 4th-century cleric, St. Jerome, and has appeared in English since about 1500. It alludes to determining the age of a horse by looking at its teeth.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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