Armed to the Teeth

Meaning of Idiom ‘Armed to the Teeth’

To be armed to the teeth means to be carrying many deadly weapons or other military equipment; to be excessively armed; to be over-equipped or excessively over-prepared for something. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,2Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,3Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.

Examples Of Use

“The police showed up, armed to the teeth, catching the robbers by surprise.”

“The hackers were armed to the teeth with sophisticated digital equipment.”

“Paranormal investigators often appear armed to the teeth with powerful technology but these devices are nothing more than an elaborate facade, unable to actually detect the presence of paranormal activity.”

“The congressional investigators were armed to the teeth with evidence of the administrations wrong-doing.”

Origin

Many sources indicate that this idiom alludes to carrying so many weapons that one must carry his knife in his teeth. While this may be the image that comes to mind when the idiom is heard, it is not the original allusion. Used since the 14th century, “to the teeth” meant well-equipped and was similar to such expressions as “up to one’s ears” or up to one’s neck.” The modern idiom armed to the teeth did not become popular until the mid-1800s. It was first used in a speech by Richard Cobden when speaking of England’s defense budget: “Is there any reason why we should be armed to the teeth?”

More Idioms Starting with A

More Arms (Weapons) Idioms

More Body Part Idioms

More Tooth/Teeth Idioms

Sources   [ + ]

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
3. Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.