How to "grin toothlessly"?

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  • I came upon this expression "grin toothlessly" in my textbook.
    If grin means "draw back the lips and bare the teeth", how can one "grin toothlessly"?


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    veracity

    Senior Member
    If someone is toothless does it involve that he has no tooth at all in his mouth? Instead of 32 if you have only 10 then are you toothless?
    If yes, then you can grin toothlessly! :confused: :D
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    In order to grin toothlessly, surely there should be a wide gap, or the black and white piano keyboard effect where once an uninterrupted row of incisors and canines used to be. The presence of a few surviving teeth does not preclude the use of the expression.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    You can have a smug, closed-lipped grin that wouldn't show whether you had teeth or not. I think of this kind of grin as a smirk.

    But my immediate reaction to your phrase is that it's a mistake and they wanted to say a toothless grin, but instead used the adverbial form of toothless, which doesn't make sense in AE.

    Was the character who was doing this grinning old, homeless, or a witch or something?

    Using a toothless grin to describe a character is usually for one who is unsophisticated and gross-looking.

    AngelEyes
     
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