I always wondered the meaning of this phrase, until I stumbled across this thread. That knowledge is nice, but the saying itself is now pretty antiquated.

Responses for modern equivalents?

  • Ways to express the same idea range from rather severe ("beggars can't be choosers") to almost jocular ("you can't beat the price").
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 17:24
  • "Don't be such a bloody ingrate!" ?
    – Rusty Tuba
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 19:01
  • 5
    If the idiom is widely understood, why does it matter if it's "antiquated"? Most of the words you used to write this question are several hundred years old; is that a problem for you?
    – phenry
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 21:13
  • I agree @phenry. And part of the reason we use proverbs is to lend history's (or the collective wisdom of previous generation's) weight to an idea...
    – Rusty Tuba
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 21:19
  • 1
    I had a look at the thread you linked to, and no equivalent modern expressions were suggested there. So while I think a couple of the other commenters make a fair point about the usefulness of some proverbial expressions, I also think it's not unreasonable to ask if there's a more contemporary equivalent.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 5:08

3 Answers 3


“Don't look a gift horse in the mouth” synonyms?

ingratitude or to be ungrateful OED

  1. Want or absence of gratitude; indisposition to acknowledge or reciprocate benefits received; unthankfulness; ungratefulness.

As in:

Defeating ingratitude in our kids is largely dependent on them seeing gratitude in us. Fox News Nov 18, 2018

  • The question asked for a modern equivalent to the phrase, not a single word defining the thing the phrase warns against.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 7:57

You could consider the more modern:

Don't look at gift's price tag (PowerThesaurus)

In the description of the expression you are giving, Urban dictionary says:

You look in a horse's mouth to determine its age and/or health. So if someone gives you a horse, and you look in it's mouth, it's like looking for a price tag. It's rude!


Related, but also antiquated: "Don't bite the hand that feeds you!"

  • 1
    "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" is only very tangentially related (if at all) to the OP's idiom; and it's antiquated and not a "modern equivalent".
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 9:13
  • is it really antiquated, is my speech that out of date, and this was 4 years ago
    – WendyG
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 9:37
  • I don't think this one is antiquated - old, sure, but still relevant in that we all still need to eat, and still need to feed our children, guests, pets, etc. But I agree that it's not a good synonym.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 8:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.