"The toothache" vs "A toothache"


Please see below:

Detective: Where were you last night at 10?
Man: Sir, I had [color=red]the toothache, so I went to bed early.

Why the toothache, why not a toothache?


Hi Tom

To me it sounds like the man had already mentioned his toothache to the detective previously. So, he says the because he is referring a specific, previously mentioned toothache.


I may assure you, Amy,[size=150] he had not[/size]. It was the first time he was meeting Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express


Well, Tom, I guess you’ll have to ask Agatha what she had in mind. 8)

Yes, Amy, it is more or less the first task I am going to carry out when I push up daisies! :lol:


Perhaps the word ‘toothache’ was used as a generic noun? Like when you say ‘the flu, the measles’ (or ‘the blues!), for example.

artoftheprint.com/artistpage … h_ache.htm

We’ve come a long way. Or have we?

Don’t miss the resourceful chap’s inexhaustible list of professional services (factotum indeed!) – incongruous, to say the least (at least by modern standards). By the way, has anyone got a clue as to what is meant by ‘Wash Balls’?

Oh, and one last question: how could people in those days happily buy black pudding from someone who bleeded people?

I know it’s supposed to be a satirical description, but all the same!

Man, I’m glad my dentist isn’t like that! :lol: And I have no idea what “wash balls” from that day and age might have been. :lol:

Agatha might have used “the toothache” generically, but it certainly wouldn’t be a typical thing to say… at least not nowadays and not like “the flu”. But, I had another thought: Where was the man with the toothache from, Tom?