wailing and gnashing of teeth

Natsuna

Senior Member
Japanese / 日本語
However, the day is growing closer that something a bit like LoveBug will hit smartphones. And it’s going to hurt. When people spam all their phone contacts, or can’t use their phones for a few hours, the impact will be much greater than a virus attack on a PC. If there is a widespread mobile phone virus outbreak, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Source: U.S. Android users targeted by clever malware; texts appear to come from friends - Bob Sullivan



Could you tell me what "wailing and gnashing of teeth" means?
 
  • rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's a biblical quote from Matthew 13:41-42. It is Jesus Christ who is speaking. The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (King James's Version, so the language is archaic). In other words, if you offend God you'll be burnt alive and not go to heaven. Any outbreak of a virus on mobile phones will be similarly disastrous.
     
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    Natsuna

    Senior Member
    Japanese / 日本語
    Thank you for your reply, rhitagawr.

    So, does "wailing and gnashing of teeth" mean "confusion" or something?
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    "Wailing" means crying desperately. And you can also imagine people reacting with open mouth and clenched teeth, in desperation; that is "gnashing of teeth".
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Think of the emotions associated with wailing and grinding one's teeth. Surely we are thinking about pain and despair.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Could you tell me what "wailing and gnashing of teeth" means?
    "there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth." is a humorous refrerence to the quoted Bible verse: it is a set clause that usually means "people will be generally unhappy and the situation may cause a few to complain loudly."

    The language of The King James Bible is, as has been said, archaic, and is now seen as over-dramatic, hyperbolic, and often funny (especially when contrasted with such modern things as cell/mobile phones.)
     

    Natsuna

    Senior Member
    Japanese / 日本語
    Thanks for your reply, Paul.

    "there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth." is a humorous refrerence to the quoted Bible verse: it is a set clause that usually means "people will be generally unhappy and the situation may cause a few to complain loudly."
    Does "a few" mean a few people?
     
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