Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Phrase of the Day, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

Proficiency Phrase of the Day #10: By the skin of one’s teeth

Today’s phrase is…

To do something by the skin of your teeth.

Introduce it to your students with some personalised examples from your own life:

I passed my driving test by the skin of my teeth, one more mistake and I would have failed.

My football team managed to win the league by the skin of their teeth, it came down to goal difference in the end.

Lead them to the meaning: by the thinnest of margins. Point out that it’s most commonly used in the contexts of exams/tests, elections or competitions.

The politician held onto his seat in parliament by the skin of her teeth.

The golfer qualified for the next round by the skin of her teeth.

I passed my Spanish speaking exam by the skin of my teeth.

Put students in pairs and encourage them to think of examples from their own life.

As a counterpoint, you could introduce the following opposite expressions:

  • to pass with flying colours
  • to sail/breeze through

Here’s the Quizlet set of all the previous phrases of the day.


Barcelona based English Teacher, blogger and sometime actor and director.

Leave a Reply