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Your English: Idioms: bite

Type: Article

Tim Bowen bites the bullet and serves up his favourite bite-related idioms.

The verb bite occurs in a couple of idioms that are often used to give advice. ‘Don’t bite off more than you can chew!’ is used to mean that you shouldn’t try to do too much or attempt to do something that is too difficult for you.

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!’ is used to warn people against doing something bad to someone who has been good to them and whose help they need.

If you bite someone’s head off, you react angrily or rudely to someone when you have no reason for doing so, as in ‘There’s no need to bite my head off. I was just asking a simple question’.

If you bite the bullet, you force yourself to do something difficult or unpleasant that you have been avoiding doing, as in ‘We’ll just have to bite the bullet and get on with it’.

To be bitten by the … bug means to become very enthusiastic about something, as in ‘Steve was bitten by the travel bug when he was a student and he hasn’t stopped travelling since’ or ‘He was bitten by the acting bug at the tender age of eight’.

If you want to tell someone not to be afraid of a particular person or not to be intimidated by them you can say ‘Don’t worry. She won’t bite, you know’.

If you get another bite at the cherry or a second bite at the cherry, you get another opportunity to do something, as in ‘The losing team with the highest score in the quiz will get a second bite at the cherry in the fourth quarter-final’.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Thanks for your comment Angie, we're glad you like them!

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  • Thank you Tim, nice collection of "bite" idioms!

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