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Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Proverb meaning

Do not unappreciatively question a gift or handout too closely.

Proverb origin

This phrase, it seems, can be traced back to St. Jerome, who referred to it as a common saying in his introductory remarks to the Epistle to the Ephesians in his translation of the New Testament: "Equi donati dentes non inspiciuntur." A rather mangled literal translation would go something like this: "A given horse's teeth are not inspected." This is evident from parsing the original Latin sentence: Equi (masculine genitive singular) donati (perfect passive (supine) masculine genitive singular) dentes (masculine accusative plural) non (negative adverb) inspiciuntur (3rd person plural present passive indicative). It is likely that English versions are translations of this original Latin; furthermore, the Latin form seems to explain the use of "given" (geuen) in the 1546 version.

From early modern English given horse: "No man ought to looke a geuen hors in the mouth." —John Heywood, 1546.

Horses' gums recede as they age making their teeth appear longer (hence the term, "long in the tooth"). Inspecting the teeth of a horse given as a gift was considered ungrateful. It would mean that recipient is trying to see if the horse is old (undesirable) or young (more desirable).

(source: Wiktionary )

Compare the literal meaning of this proverb in different languages.

Spanish:  Do not check the teeth of a horse given as a present.
French:  At a given horse one doesn't look at the teeth.
Italian:  One doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Portuguese:  At a given horse one doesn't look at the teeth.
Russian:  Don't look at the teeth of a horse you've been given.

You may want to compare how different online translation providers translate proverbs and sayings.

Use ImTranslator Comparison Tool to see the translation variants from Google Translate, Microsoft Translator and Babylon.

English to Spanish
Google Translate: No mire un caballo de regalo en la boca.
Microsoft Translator: No mires a caballo regalado en la boca.
Babylon: No busque un obsequio.

English to French
Google Translate: Ne pas regarder un cheval cadeau dans la bouche.
Microsoft Translator: Ne regardez pas un cheval de cadeau dans la bouche.
Babylon: Ne regardez pas un cadeau cheval dans la bouche.

English to German
Google Translate: Nicht Einem geschenkten Gaul schaut in den Mund.
Microsoft Translator: Schauen Sie keinem geschenkten Gaul in den Mund.
Babylon: Einem geschenkten Gaul schaut man nicht ins Maul.

English to Italian
Google Translate: Non guardare a caval donato in bocca.
Microsoft Translator: Non guardare un cavallo regalo in bocca.
Babylon: Don't look a gift horse in bocca.

English to Portuguese
Google Translate: Não olhe um cavalo de presente na boca.
Microsoft Translator: A cavalo dado, não se olha os dentes.
Babylon: Não procure um cavalo de dom na boca.

English to Russian
Google Translate: Дареному коню в зубы не смотрят.
Microsoft Translator: Не смотреть дареному коню в зубы.
Babylon: Не удается получить подарок лошадь в рот.

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