Idiom of the day: live from hand to mouth

Origin of Hvà to Mouth

This idiom is quite old và dates all the way back khổng lồ the 1500s.

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To underst& this expression, it can be helpful lớn imagine the following scene. There is a very poor man who doesn’t have sầu any money, or even any food, saved at all. He has only enough food for his immediate hunger. Every time that he needs lớn eat, he must go find food. This man is living a hand-to-mouth existence.

Some sources say that this idiom comes from a period of famine in Britain. At that time, there was so little food that whenever people found some khung of sustenance, it went straight from their hands to lớn their mouths. They didn’t dare save it for later.

Examples of Hand lớn Mouth

In the following example, two friends are discussing their business.

Kerry: So, I know most businesses have a hard time during their first year. However, what I don’t know is how they get through that difficult period. We’re making hardly any money. In fact, on most days, we’re losing money.

Christine: I know. I’ve put so much of my time, resources, and money inlớn our business. My family và I are living h& to mouth. I don’t have sầu any of my savings left. I’m not sure how I’ll pay for their next meal.

Kerry: Yes. Things have gotten really bad. If business doesn’t improve by the over of this month, we might have khổng lồ declare bankruptcy.

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In this dialogue, two friends are talking about the bad economy.

Arlena: I can’t believe sầu we are still in a recession. I thought that if I graduated from a good college that I’d be able to lớn get a good job with a nice salary. It turns out that I did get a good job, but it barely pays me enough khổng lồ live on.

Nyima: Me too! It’s a shame that we both work so hard yet aren’t even able to lớn save sầu money for emergencies or retirement.

Arlena: I don’t like living h& to mouth like this.

More Examples

The example below is from an article about the American economy.

This excerpt is about a lawyer who quit his high paying job to lớn become an educator.

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The phrase hand to lớn mouth means to live with just enough for the basic, immediate necessities, and no more.