OP is mistaken about the precise interpretation of the expression. It"s not about obtaining "new" abilities, but around how you acquired started on the abilities you already have actually. Here"s a meaning from dictionary.com
cut one"s teeth on: to carry out at the start of one"s education and learning, career, etc., or in one"s youth: The hunter boasted of having actually cut his teeth on tigers.
You are watching: What does it mean to cut your teeth
It"s a metaphoric referral to as soon as a baby"s teeth first appear. They grow (cut) through the gums - often paincompletely, which also provides us the figurative intake teething troubles.
Once the baby has actually "reduced its teeth", it"s correctly equipped for the all-vital "real-world" task of chewing solid food (metaphorically, for tackling even more facility problems in expert life, and so on.).
As that dictionary instance says, the expression is frequently offered boastfully/facetiously (in reality the hunter most likely began via a lot much less challenging prey, such as grubs, mice, and also rabbits).
Improve this answer
edited May 4 "19 at 19:28
10333 bronze badges
answered May 27 "13 at 11:56
131k4545 gold badges268268 silver badges472472 bronze badges
| Show 4 more comments
FumbleFingers"s answer describes the literal meaning of "cut
To judge from assorted Google Books and Elephind searcs, the origin of the literal and also figurative senses of "cut
Christine Ammer, The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms (1997) reports that the expression goes ago a number of hundred years:
reduced one"s teeth on Also, reduced one"s eyeteeth on. Get one"s initially experience by doing, or learn early in life, as in I cut my teeth on his sort of layout or He reduced his eyeteeth on magazine editing. This term alludes to the literal verb to cut teeth, meaning to have teeth initially emerge with a baby"s gums," a usage dating from he late 1600s.
This entry argues that the phrase "reduced
Early instances of "reduced
Ammer"s dating matches the OED"s, which lists instances of cut in the conmessage of emerging baby teeth from 1677 and also 1694. From The Compact Edition of the Oxford muzic-ivan.info Dictionary (1971):
To reduced a tooth, one"s teeth : to have them show up through the gums; likewise fig. to end up being discovering, attain to discretion ; so reduced one"s eyeteeth.
Lady Hatton"s use of the phrase occurs in a letter to her husband also, dated March 31, 1677, in Correspondence of the Family of Hatton, Chiefly Letters Addressed to Christopher First Viscount Hatton, volume 1 (1878):
Poor bit Susana is very ill around her teeth. I hope in God they will not be long prior to they be cut. Shee bares it with a great deal of patience.
And below is a little even more context for the instance from William Congreve, The Double Dealer (1694):
Cynthia. Pray, Sir, stay, hear him, I dare affirm he"s Innocent.
Sir Paul Plyant. Innocent! Why hark"ee, come hither Thy, hark"ee, I had actually it from his Aunt, my Sister Touchwood,——gads-bud he does not care a Farthing for any kind of Thing of thee, yet thy Portion, why he"s in love via my Wife; he would have tantaliz"d thee, and made a Cuckold of thy negative Father,——and that would certainly absolutely have damaged my Heart—I"m certain if ever I should have actually Horns, they would certainly kill me; they would never come kindly, I have to die of "em, favor a Child, that was cutting his Teeth——I must indeed, Thy—therefore come away; however Providence has prevented all, therefore come amethod. once I bid you.
Cynthia. I must obey.
Google Books searches find numerous instances of "reduced
The TREATISE to make Children Presently Cut their Teeth, through a little Remedy to OPEN their GUMS.
This is not to say that human being didn"t offer infants objects to bite throughout teething in the 1700s. A note dated October 24, 1751, from Ben Franklin to his sister Jane Mecom, republished in Letters of Benjamin Franklin and Jane Mecom (2015) establishes that they did:
My compliments to my brand-new niece, Miss Abiah, and pray her to accept the enclosed item of gold, to cut her teeth; it might after that buy nuts for them to crack.
But the phrasing "reduced
Early literal instances of "reduced
The earliest Google Books/Elephind search results for "reduced
"It has been shelp for the well known Colonel
From Thomas Read, The Pilgrims of the Great St. Bernard, serialized in Graham"s Magazine (April 1853):
But no, his
Day Lee, Merrimack: Or, Life at the Loom; a Tale (1854):
Others comments were made on the book, and also Miss Mumby check out the chapter on "Idealism," and also cried, "I will not attempt to understand it—so here! It is unfit even for a baby to cut her teeth on." But others admired. Anna Logan felt even more beauty than she can expush, and said, "Miss Mumby understands through her elbows, I think."
From "Fancy Biography of Dr. Kane, the Arctic Explorer," in the
Little by little bit he came to be habituated to ordinary temperature, however his predilections for the ice and also everything cold ongoing. Nothing, once fairly an infant, soothed him so easily as an icicle, and he reduced his teeth on a beautiful specimales of icespar and the plaything which a lot of pleased him was a thermometer, which he delighted to plunge into Cold water.
From "Epistle from John Bolivar," in the Wheeling
From the Boston Saturday Gazette (June 22, 1861), redeveloped in The Rebellion Record: A Diary of Amerihave the right to Events, through Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry Etc. (1862):
This is the image of a Southerner that abuses the North : He toils not, neither does he spin. Swaddled at birth in a Northern blanket, cutting his teeth on a Northern gum-ring, solacing bis sweet tooth on Northern candies, learning his letters from a Northern book, educated at a Northern college, finding out his gentility and obtaining all his refinements in Northern social circles—he still looks upon the North as a foreign country, an area altogether plebeian and uncivilized, ...
And from "Presents," in Frank Leslie"s Illustrated Family Almanac (1865):
Of all the traditional presents, those offered at christenings and also weddings are the the majority of unsatisfactory. Christening gifts, indeed, are ssuggest detesecure from initially to last. Those typical mugs which are never drank from; those silver spoons and also forks, which carry out not enhance with the family set, and also have actually always a maimed, one-legged look on the table; those absurd corals and also bells, which are never before offered as playpoints. but which are expected to do duty as mysterious tools for “baby to cut its teeth on;" those arbitrary offerings of robes and also hoods, the tribute exacted from the unlucky sinner singled out for this distinct penance—what are they however oppressive shams, which carry out no great to the small receiver, are intolerable nuisances to the overtaxed givers?
"Early figurative instances of "cut
The earliest motion towards figurative supplies of "reduced
The initially Google Books/Elephind search result that may cross the line into truly nonliteral usage of "cutting
And so we lived; for father—having actually been born in the latter days of the family members prosperity, having actually been weaned, so to say, on the legends of its former state, cutting his teeth on the crust of the Featherstonehaugh grandeur, and putting on his initially knickerbockers with a feeling of coronation roles while a score of servants kowtowed at his bit bidding—never before, even now that the entirety was dust and also ashes, could acquire over the feeling that it was all momentary adversity, that the king in exile was imperial still; the concept of noblesse oblige held a stiff rod over his head, and also he couldn"t carry out this, and he must perform that, because he was a Featherstonehaugh.
Even below, the metaphor lies in the point used for teething, not in the infancy of the baby in question. But that vestige of literal accuracy is nowright here to be discovered in an example that showed up two years later on. From "Current Items," in the Memphis
Women are turning their attention to the insurance agency organization. After this there is nopoint left for their power to reduced its teeth on however peddling lightning-rods.
Also, from Carrie Shove, "Spanalysis the Toils," in Wedded and also Saved! (1882):
"We are friends," I said.
"Friends!" he changed. "If we were all unsophisticated infants, in initially bibs and tuckers, we could think in that humbug; yet we have all cut our teeth on somepoint more than corals or ivory rings."
"You are insolent, Arthur Wyndham!" I retorted.
From Lewis Day, "The Lowly Arts," in The Art Journal (1882):
And wbelow tright here is no question of genius, our initiatives are instinctively, if not consciously, directed to what we apprehfinish it is in us to attain. We begin, it is true, by leaving out of account our want of education and also experience, and also set to work-related to reduced our teeth on an epic poem or historical picture; but as soon as once we resolve dvery own to occupational, after the initially ebullition of enthusiasm, we shortly begin to check out (if we have actually any bent or faculty at all) wherein our opportunity lies, and also wherein our weakness.
From "Not a Bunco Man at the Conference," in the
Two pocketpublications have actually been lost, yet in neither situation is the loser positive that his loss arisen inside or about tho Opera Housage. Capt. Reilly"s male believe that if any kind of theft hits taken place in the Conference, it has actually been committed by some aspiring young thief who is cutting his teeth on the delegates, and also is not yet well-known to fame or the police.
See more: Why Are Cell Division And Reproduction Important ? Cell Division
From "W.C.T.U. Day: The Chautauqua Exercises Were Very Interelaxing," in the Salt Lake
The birth of the temperance activity was not known. In 1817 the first Irish pledge was taken by 3 men and also they preserved it until they died. The motion had actually occurred from an infant into a solid man but it had to reduced its teeth on sarcasm.
And from "A Spasm of Virtue," in Kate Field"s Washington (December 13, 1893):
I wish I thought the millennium would certainly arrive as soon as women vote. Tbelow is no doubt they deserve it as a lot as males, but I question whether womales will certainly be a little wiser in the usage of the ballot than their fathers, brothers and husbands. I check out no acquire in Wyoming. ... I hope and also pray for the ideal, believing that inevitably woguys will be a beneficent factor in government. Until they cut their teeth on many kind of mistakes, yet, I execute not look for cheerful outcomes.
The sequence of appearance of the pertinent phrases starts via the arrival of "reduced