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Why the expression “to have the teeth of happiness” refers to the Napoleonic wars


In “Historically Vôtre”, Stéphane Bern always has the last word and tells us the story of a phrase or expression. On Friday, he explains to us the origins of “having the teeth of happiness”, used to describe splayed incisors. To understand, you have to go back in time, to the Napoleonic wars.

Why do you use the expression “having happy teeth” when someone has their upper incisors splayed? A priori, difficult to say. However, the French language associates this dental distribution with the notion of joy, while a scientific name, the diastema, also exists.. To better understand, we must go back to the France of the Napoleonic era. This is what explained Stéphane Bern on Friday in “Historically yours” on Europe 1.

A story of soldiers

Yannick Noah, Vanessa Paradis, William Leymergie, Laurent Voulzy, Jane Birkin, Béatrice Dalle, Mike Tyson … Many personalities have the characteristic of having a diastema in their teeth. This word comes from the Greek “diastema” which means “interval”. As the saying goes, “having the teeth of happiness” is supposed to bring good luck to those who have this hallmark. Why ? To find out, you have to go back in time.

The expression actually dates from the Napoleonic wars. At the time, soldiers had to hold heavy guns with both hands. They only had their teeth to tear off the paper wrapper in which the powder refill was located. Consequence: to fight, you needed a jaw in perfect working order. Those who had spoiled teeth, or even simply discarded, were therefore declared unfit for combat and reformed. What joy it was for them not to go to the front! It is for this reason that one said “to have the teeth of happiness”.



Source site www.europe1.fr

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