What Does Toothing Mean?

Toothing is a term for the practice of using Bluetooth technology to send unauthorized messages to other local devices for the purposes of sexual flirtation. Although it has generally been considered a fictional practice, toothing is possible, and has likely been done by a number of users with Bluetooth-enabled devices.


Techopedia Explains Toothing

Much of the news around the term “toothing” traces its origin back to a hoax perpetuated by gaming journalists Ste Curran and Simon Byron in 2004 and 2005. These individuals created the idea of toothing out of thin air, and started to promote it to journalists to see how seriously it would be taken. As a result, stories were printed about the toothing phenomenon, although it had not been observed previously as actually occurring.

Although there are not really legitimate observations of toothing on any large scale, it is likely that people have used Bluetooth-enabled devices to flirt with each other or promote sexual hookups. A look at the practice of bluejacking, where Bluetooth devices can be used to generate local messages outside of a network, shows that toothing is technically possible. It is likely that after toothing was made public as a fictional practice, people started to do it. Toothing also has associations with terms like “jailbreaking” that explore how people are able to use their smart phones and mobile devices in unintended ways.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.