Wednesday WOLF - The Skin of My Teeth

I'm such a big nerd that I tend to look up word origins in my spare time because I'm fascinated by our language. The odder the origin, the better. I've got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications. I thought I'd share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you - Word Origins from Left Field - that's right, the WOLF. Er... ignore the fact that the "from" doesn't fit.

Recently I hit a deadline by the skin of my teeth, and my nerd brain immediately said, "Hey, what's that mean?" So, librarian section of nerd brain went to work and Religion Major section of nerd brain was humbled when I discovered the answer.

Turns out we get this handy-dandy close call reference from poor long suffering Job. Quoting Job, 19:20 (NIV) "I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth." If you're not familiar with Job's story, basically the man lost everything he had - family, wealth, possessions, health - but it seems he still had good teeth so that says a lot of the Biblical era dental hygienists.

Other translations have the verse reading as, "by the skin of my teeth," but either one translates the same. Old Job was saying he'd escaped something "by a very small margin" as we don't actually have skin on our teeth. If you do, I suggest your visit a Biblical dental hygienist, apparently they knew how to handle that. There is some argument that perhaps Job was referring to his gums being the only part of his body not covered in boils, which may or may not be the case, but the translation remains the same as the gums would compose a small margin of his body.

Either way, I doubt it was much consolation to him at the time that he was coining a phrase.