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Thread: acquire teeth

  1. #1
    haseli22 is offline Member
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    Default acquire teeth

    Dear native speakers,

    What could be the meaning of "acquiring teeth" in the following sentence?

    While honor codes have existed on many campuses for a long time, they are now acquiring "teeth" as the institutions strive to enforce them.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: acquire teeth

    There are methods of enforcement and penalties for violating them.

  3. #3
    haseli22 is offline Member
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    Default Re: acquire teeth

    Dear SoothingDave,
    Thanks for your reply but I couldn't understand your asnwer clearly!!

  4. #4
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: acquire teeth

    An "honor code" is a set of rules for behavior. Laws, in other words. Laws have teeth when they are actually enforced and when violations of them have penalties.

    For instance, it is the law where I live that cans and bottles be recycled. We have separate bins for regular garbage and for recyclable items. However, if I put a can in my regular trash, there is no one to go through my trash bags to find my crime.

    This law depends on voluntary obedience. It has no teeth. If I violate the law I am not "bit."

  5. #5
    Gillnetter is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: acquire teeth

    Quote Originally Posted by haseli22 View Post
    Dear native speakers,

    What could be the meaning of "acquiring teeth" in the following sentence?

    While honor codes have existed on many campuses for a long time, they are now acquiring "teeth" as the institutions strive to enforce them.

    Thanks.
    Think of "teeth" here as the teeth of a lion. A lion has a powerful jaw and large teeth. A lion can break the bones of his prey with his teeth. The text says that there have been honor codes for a long time but these codes could not be enforced. They could not be enforced because there was no way to enforce them. This would be like a lion trying to bite into another animal and failing because the lion had no teeth. Now, the honor codes are being enforced because there are laws, or rules, which allow the authorities to force people to follow the codes. If the people do not follow the codes, these people can be punished. This is similar to the lion having teeth. You can write a law which says that people should not go faster than the posted speed limit. This law has no "teeth" if you do not also have a penalty and a way to enforce this penalty. If your law also says that, if you go faster than the posted speed limit, the police will come to your house and take you to jail and the judge will require you to pay a penalty of $125.00 - the law has teeth.

  6. #6
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: acquire teeth

    , but I think 'acquiring teeth' is something that - originally - watch-dogs did; (the idea of 'teeth' referred to watch-dogs, and the term 'watch-dog' has come to be used to refer to any authority that enforces standards of behaviour: 'For years. the British press have been 'bending' the law, and the Press Complaints Council is a self-regulating watch-dog, but there is currently a movement in favour of setting up a watch-dog with teeth.' (Another canine metaphor is 'to muzzle' - as when 'a watch-dog muzzles the press', when a mixed metaphor chases its own tail!)

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 03-Dec-2012 at 15:16.

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    Gillnetter is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: acquire teeth

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    , but I think 'acquiring teeth' is something that - originally - watch-dogs did; (the idea of 'teeth' referred to watch-dogs, and the term 'watch-dog' has come to be used to refer to any authority that enforces standards of behaviour: 'For years. the British press have been 'bending' the law, and the Press Complaints Council is a self-regulating watch-dog, but there is currently a movement in favour of setting up a watch-dog with teeth.' (Another canine metaphor is 'to muzzle' - as when 'a watch-dog muzzles the press', when a mixed metaphor chases its own tail!)

    b
    I agree, but, being unsure if the poster understood the concept of dogs being guardians in western cultures, I opted to use the lion as an example.

  8. #8
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: acquire teeth

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillnetter View Post
    I agree, but, being unsure if the poster understood the concept of dogs being guardians in western cultures, I opted to use the lion as an example.
    Good call

    b

  9. #9
    haseli22 is offline Member
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    Default Re: acquire teeth

    Thanks you all for your response. Now the meaning is crystal clear to me.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: acquire teeth



    The attached result of a BNC search for 'crystal' collocations might interest you!

    b
    Attached Files Attached Files

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