Idiom – By The Skin Of Your Teeth

English Idiom – By the skin of one’s teeth.

Meaning – To only just succeed in doing something. To just barely do something; to succeed by the smallest of margin.

This idiom can also be used to describe a situation in which someone barely avoids a dangerous or unpleasant situation. For example, if someone narrowly avoids getting into a car accident, they might say “I escaped the accident by the skin of my teeth.”

Teeth – of course – don’t actually have skin, so if you achieve something by the skin of your teeth you achieve it by the tiniest of margins.

Don’t get this expression confused with the English idiom no skin off my nose as this is used to refer to not caring about something because it will not affect you.


When could you use this idiom?

  • If a football team narrowly wins a match.
  • A student passes an exam by a very small margin.
  • Someone only just catches a train or plane.
  • A person just about manages to avoid danger.


  • “Real Madrid had a terrible second half but they managed to hold on to a victory by the skin of their teeth!”

In The News:

Intense footage shows how rally driver is saved by the skin of his teeth!


  • Is there an idiom like this in your country?

What is an idiom?

An idiom is a word or phrase that is not taken literally.  An idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its individual words, but has a separate meaning of its own.

What is FunkyEnglish?

FunkyEnglish is a website that helps you improve your English. We offer quick lessons that teach idiomsslangphrasal verbs and more. Visit our homepage to see our latest articles, or use the menu to find specific content!

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