with a fine tooth-comb (fine-tooth comb) vs every nook and cranny

redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
A friend came to visit me and while we were watching TV he suddenly screamed and said a mouse just bit his feet and scurried into my room. I went over my room with a fine tooth-comb but didn't find it.

Hi, I was just wondering if I could use "looking for the mouse in every nook and cranny" in the place of "with a fine tooth-comb" without altering the meaning. In theory, I think "every nook and cranny" puts the stress on the fact that you go over every place and "with a fine tooth-comb" suggests that you examine the place very thoroughly. But in practice, do you use these phrases interchangeably?
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    No, they're definitely not interchangeable, redgiant.

    I think you've encapsulated the difference very well:):thumbsup:
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Let's get one thing straight. There is no such thing as a fine tooth-comb, because that would be a fine specimen of a tooth-comb, such as which there is no thing either. We brush and comb our hair, but we only brush our teeth, we do not comb them.

    The expression you want is fine-tooth comb, that is to say a comb with very finely-spaced teeth, suitable for combing very small objects (including nits) out of your hair, from which the expression "going over something with a fine-tooth comb" has come to mean to conduct a very thorough search.
     
    Let's get one thing straight. There is no such thing as a fine tooth-comb, because that would be a fine specimen of a tooth-comb, such as which there is no thing either. We brush and comb our hair, but we only brush our teeth, we do not comb them.

    The expression you want is fine-tooth comb, that is to say a comb with very finely-spaced teeth, suitable for combing very small objects (including nits) out of your hair, from which the expression "going over something with a fine-tooth comb" has come to mean to conduct a very thorough search.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup:
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I agree with Loob's comment about interchangeability. And I'll mention that you'll see both fine-tooth comb and fine-toothed comb. If you're looking for a mouse, you'll want a rat tail fine-tooth(ed) comb. :)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top