It is a situation that a boy who wanted to retaliate to another one but was prevented by an officer.

The first boy: はなせっ あのやろうとケリをつけるんだ こないだの借りをたたきかえしてやるんだっ

The officer (said to the first boy): この問題児めおまえに歯のたつ相手か!

In my opinion, the officer would ask something about how the first boy retaliate to the another one by using his teeth. However, I don't see any transitive verb to use with 'his teeth'. Is it possible that the phrase contains figurative meaning?

  • 1
    お前に歯の立つ相手か! -> You could rephrase it 「お前に[敵]{かな}う相手か!」
    – chocolate
    Sep 30, 2016 at 15:50
  • 歯が立たない⇒can't bite⇒can't beat. Oct 1, 2016 at 2:20

2 Answers 2


I'm guessing it has to do with 歯が立たない.


But in the manga it is said in the affirmative + か, probably meaning:

"You think you're stronger than him??!" or something along those lines.

  • おまえに歯の立つ相手か!

  • Do you think you stand a chance? -- (a fighting chance, literally)

鳴門秘帖 https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=ng3nBgAAQBAJ

吉川英治 -- 不意に名を指されたいぶかしさに、思わずそこから振りかえると、「そちに歯の立つ相手ではない。必ずとも追ってはならぬ」「や?・・・・・・もし」と銀五郎、戻ってくるなり虚無僧の足もとへ片膝片手をつきながら、「まず何よりは、今のお礼から申し上げなくっちゃなり ...

  • 「そちに歯の立つ相手ではない。必ずとも追ってはならぬ」

  • [He's no match for you. Do not pursue.]

おまえに歯の立つ相手か! -- this か is actually negative. (rhetorical question) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhetorical_question

2. 反語の意を表す。「いいかげんな意見にどうして賛成できよう―」

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