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rarer than hens' teeth Options
Posted: Monday, February 27, 2017 12:00:00 AM
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rarer than hens' teeth

Incredibly scarce or rare; extremely difficult or impossible to find. More...

Posted: Monday, February 27, 2017 1:17:26 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/4/2014
Posts: 6,198
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Location: Bogotá, Bogota D.C., Colombia

-There isn't much information on the roots of this phrase, but scholars have been able to dig up a few tidbits. Meaning 'very rare,' this phrase is thought to be an Americanism dating back to the colonial period (c. early 1600s.) While researchers believe it has been in use since then, its first recording doesn't appear until 1862. The imagery behind this phrase relates to something we probably don't think about too often: birds don't have teeth. There are some birds with serrated beaks leftover from their prehistoric ancestors, but none have teeth like mammals or some reptiles. If something is as scarce as hen's teeth, with a hen being a female bird, this object must be very rare indeed.
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