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I want to get a comb, made of the finest materials, with tines (if that is the right word) spaced apart roughly the width of human teeth. Then, when people use the phrase "I want to go through that with a fine-tooth comb" but stress it "fine tooth-comb" instead of "fine-tooth comb", I'll whip this comb
out of my pocket and say "What? You mean one of these?".
Non-native guide to mispronunciation. [Blumster, Jun 05 2005]
Baked by lemurs, apparently
[Basepair, Jun 05 2005]
||Hoorah! I want one - I *hate* it when they get the emphasis so stupidly wrong. Sure-fire success [hippo]!
||Hang on a minute, this isn't bad. You
might have to custom make it for each
individual, but if you made the teeth on
the comb thin
enough, you might be able to floss with
||hippo, you know of course that the expression was coined by the baleen whale hunters?
||hmm? - baleen whale hunters?
||I'll put it in the glass with my tooth-brush.
||Finnish people can't help it. [+] Interesting link above.
||Presumably the common mis-
pronunciation is related to the use of
the phrase "tooth-comb" (as in "go
through it with a tooth-comb"). I don't
know if "tooth-comb" makes any sense
(is/was there a non-tooth comb?), but
presumably the combination of "fine-
tooth comb" and "tooth-comb" got
merged to become "fine tooth-comb"?
Incidentally, there apparently
is such a thing as a [non-
hyphenated] tooth comb (link)