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In the first episode of Barkskins (France circa 1600s), an immigrant is watching a carriage full of women. then his master tells him "Do not grind your pearls"

He answers "Come on, they are beautiful"

And then his master replies "They are the king's, not of your station. It is men like myself who will have a wife to fill this land with sons and daughters."

Does anybody know what does "Do not grind your pearls" mean?

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To Grind your pearls is a casual reference to grinding one's teeth. The man is telling his friend to pay no attention to the ladies as it would make him frustrated and likely to grind his teeth, unproductively. Despite being common enough I've been unable to nail down a reference.

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  • Not to be confused with clutch your pearls. – John Lawler May 28 at 1:32
  • Possibly from “pearly whites”? – AlannaRose May 28 at 2:08
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    This is the likely answer. However, "pearls" are also slang synonyms for testicles (as are "jewels," keep safe the family jewels). Grind could also mean "worry," which gives us "Don't worry your testicles," quite similar to "Don't clutch your pearls." – Zan700 May 28 at 2:11
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    I always thought Clutching your pearls was what elderly ladies did when in fear. They would grasp and protect what was valuable. I suppose I might be moved to do the same. – Elliot May 28 at 3:09
  • And upvoted this too – user385888 May 28 at 7:43

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