knowyourphrase.com - Meanings and Origins of Common Idioms | If you're interested in general sports phrases, then check out that list!
Being in a dangerous or very deadly situation.
The phrase is often said as "out of the jaws of death," meaning a person was saved from a near death experience.
One theory as to where this phrase originates, and it's an obvious one, is from the jaws of dangerous animals. Think along the lines of alligators, lions, or hippos. Each have the potential to inflict a deadly wound with a single, but powerful bite of their jaws.
Animal Planet says there was a study published in the Journal of Zoology of London, where the strength of an alligators jaws were put to the test. The result? Their jaw is capable of shutting with a force of 2,125 pounds. That kind of pressure can easily break the bones of any human, and I'd imagine the same holds true for many animals too.
This phrase has existed for at least 400 years, as it was used by William Shakespeare in the play Twelfth Night, which is believed to have been written around 1601-02:
"This youth that you see here I snatch'd one half out of the jaws of death."
Note: The origins for most idioms and popular sayings cannot be said with a certainty. What's provided are theories that may be plausible to how a phrase originated, but not necessarily so.
In addition, quotes that contain a particular phrase may be taken from old newspapers, poems, or books that were written centuries ago, but this by no means confirms that the phrase originates from said newspapers, poems, or books. In all likelihood, if an expression is being used in a newspaper, it's probably already a well known saying and is from an older time.
* I was in big trouble after slipping and nearly falling off the side of a cliff. Everything worked out in the end, as I was able to grab hold of the edge and bought enough time for my friend to lift me up out of the jaws of death!