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Is the phrase

[all] up in $POSSESSIVE_PRONOUN grill

which is synonymous with the figure of speech

in one's face

an automotive metaphor?

If so, would it be more correct to spell the last word "grille"?

If not, what does the phrase mean?

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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

"Grill" refers to jewelry that some people wear on their teeth. It is prevalent in hip-hop culture, where it is a way to show off one's "bling" - or wealth - when you smile. Your synonymous phrase is correct.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grill_(jewelry)

Both spellings of the word are related etymologically, as "grill" is merely a shortened form of "grille" (according to etymonline)

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=grill

I think it's safe to assume that this meaning of grill is related to the cooking implement and is similar in that they are both made of metal. See comment below by ghoppe.

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7  
I disagree with your assessment of the origin of grill. I'm pretty certain it refers to a radiator grille, the metalwork in front of a car. "Pimping up your mouth" is analogous to "pimping up your car" with fancy chrome grilles. This is more relevant to hip-hop culture than some cookware. –  ghoppe Dec 28 '10 at 2:56
    
@ghoppe: Thanks for your comment. I think you're correct in your assessment. –  Chris Dwyer Dec 28 '10 at 3:45
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Green's Dictionary of Slang has "all up in someone's grill" as "aggressively confronting somebody", and "bust someone in the grill" to hit them in the mouth. It doesn't suggest any automotive origin, as "grill" is the teeth.

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This is too informal for me to find in any reputable source, but in street slang around the Southeast U.S. (at least there, I can't speak for other regions), grill is used to refer to the teeth and mouth in general. This usage expanded from the concept of calling gold fronts "grills".

As an example I've heard it said, "Oh, she's cute, but she has a busted grill," which means that she has broken or crooked teeth, not damaged gold fronts.

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