give one’s eyeteeth

noun, plural eye·teeth [ahy-teeth] /ˈaɪˌtiθ/.

  1. Dentistry. a canine tooth of the upper jaw: so named from its position under the eye.
  1. cut one’s eyeteeth,
    1. to gain sophistication or experience; become worldly-wise.
    2. Also cut one’s eyeteeth be initiated or gain one’s first experience in (a career, hobby, skill, etc.).
  2. give one’s eyeteeth, to give something one considers very precious, usually in exchange for an object or situation one desires: She would give her eyeteeth for that job.

noun plural -teeth

  1. either of the two canine teeth in the upper jaw
  2. give one’s eyeteeth for to go to any lengths to achieve or obtain (something)I’d give my eyeteeth for a radio as good as that

also eye tooth, 1570s, so called for its position immediately under or next to the eye.


  1. A canine tooth of the upper jaw.

Also, give one’s right arm. Go to any lengths to obtain, as in She’d give her eyeteeth for a mink coat, or He’d give his right arm for a new car. These hyperbolic expressions both allude to something precious, the eyeteeth (or canines) being useful for both biting and chewing and the right arm a virtual necessity for the 90 percent of the population who are right-handed. Both date from the first half of the 1900s, when the first replaced give one’s eyes, from the mid-1800s.

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