by the skin of your teeth

by the skin of your teeth


  • barely manage to do something
  • narrowly succeed in doing something
  • manage to do something by the smallest margin


  1. We managed to complete the project on time by the skin of our teeth.
  2. After being chased by the police a long way, the criminal managed to escape by the skin of his teeth.
  3. He made the final cut off list of the university by the skin of his teeth.
  4. I managed to pass the exam by the skin if my teeth.
  5. He slipped at the edge of the cliff but managed to hold on to a rock, and was saved by the skin of his teeth.
  6. The team held on by the skin of their teeth to win the crucial match.
  7. He cleared the selection criteria by the skin of his teeth.
  8. We escaped the raging rioters by the skin of our teeth.

This phrase first appeared in English in 1560 in the Geneva Bible, in Job 19:20. It provides a literal translation of the original Hebrew. Since teeth have no skin, the expression refers to the smallest possible measure.

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