Definition of bite in English:

bite

Line breaks: bite
Pronunciation: /bʌɪt
 
/

verb (past bit /bɪt/; past participle bitten /ˈbɪt(ə)n/)

[with object]
1Use the teeth to cut into (something): the woman’s arm was bitten off by an alligator [no object]: Rosa bit into a cream cake
More example sentences
  • A British woman whose arm was bitten off by a lion when she reached through the bars of an enclosure at an animal sanctuary in Spain was last night recovering from emergency surgery.
  • You can see from another photo the tail missing from one of the seatrout, due to it being bitten off by a seal or a small whale.
  • As she lay unconscious, part of her nose, her mouth and chin were bitten off by her Labrador-cross dog, Tania.
Synonyms
1.1Use the teeth in order to inflict injury on: she had bitten, scratched, and kicked her assailant
More example sentences
  • One officer suffered minor injuries after being bitten on the hand.
  • It is very important to check you are up to date with your tetanus jabs if your skin is broken in an injury or you are bitten.
  • William sustained serious head and body injuries and Chang was bitten on his arms.
1.2(Of a snake, insect, or spider) wound with fangs, pincers, or a sting: while on holiday she was bitten by an adder
More example sentences
  • All over the world, people come in with wounds and think they've been bitten by a spider.
  • She tried to weed the garden but got bitten by a spider.
  • I got bitten by another spider last night while I was asleep.
Synonyms
puncture, prick, pierce, sting, wound
1.3 [no object] (Of an acid) corrode a surface: chemicals have bitten deep into the stone
More example sentences
  • Square paintings divided into apparently geometric blocks, the stripped areas retaining the ghostly residue of the oils where they have bitten into the canvas.
  • It was impossible not to wince, though, when the caustic chemical bit into open flesh.
  • The acid bites around the particles, creating tooth, or a collection of little marks in the plate that hold ink.
Synonyms
corrode, eat into, eat away at, wear away, burn (into), etch, erode, dissolve, destroy, consume
1.4 [no object] (Of a fish) take the bait or lure on the end of a fishing line into the mouth: I marvel at how easily and eagerly a chub will bite
More example sentences
  • We were fishing, and all of the fish were biting on one side of the boat.
  • Organiser Ray Collins is hoping the amazing run of fine weather doesn't come to an end - even if a spot of rain would get the fish biting.
  • When the fish aren't biting, I want to listen to her tell me what makes her happy and what makes her cry.
1.5 [no object] informal Be persuaded to accept a deal or offer: a hundred or so retailers should bite
More example sentences
  • If Arafat wouldn't bite when Barak offered him the whole cake, the reasoning goes, then that must not have been what he was interested in in the first place.
  • If retailers bite, licensing could feasibly extend anywhere that makes sense for the brand's lifestyle positioning.
  • The Yanks' rightfielder wasn't biting at Araton's line of reasoning.
Synonyms
accept, go for it, agree, respond; be lured, be enticed, be tempted, be allured; take the bait, rise to the bait
1.6 informal Annoy or worry: what’s biting you today?
More example sentences
  • What's biting you today?
  • These subtle requirements are the things that bite us.
2 [no object] (Of a tool, tyre, boot, etc.) grip or take hold on a surface: once on the slab, my boots failed to bite
More example sentences
  • The technique to going quick in one of these jiggers is to leave the braking as late as possible, and enter the corner under brakes, so that the front tyres are biting.
  • Our tools bit like the teeth of shark, as net after net was left shredded at our feet.
  • He had an old, discoloured ball, just the sort that's ready to grip and bite, in his hand.
Synonyms
grip, hold, get a purchase
2.1(Of an object) press into a part of the body, causing pain: the handcuffs bit into his wrists
More example sentences
  • The metal stirrup bit into the arch of my foot, but I pressed against it even harder.
  • He pressed it forward slightly and Adam winced as it bit into the tender flesh on his throat.
  • I grabbed her hand to pull her up, wincing as her numerous rings bit into my fingers.
2.2Cause emotional pain: Cheryl’s betrayal had bitten deep
More example sentences
  • These are staggering figures and have bitten deep into the British soul.
  • Then the dreams became too troublesome, the regrets began to bite too deep, too bitterly.
  • Tim Lambert, normally writing on science, brings a sad photograph and a homely family touch which bites almost deeper than the horror.
2.3(Of a policy or situation) take effect, with unpleasant consequences: the cuts in art education were starting to bite
More example sentences
  • The fuel crisis is already biting in this household.
  • For example, earlier in 2000, unexpected quantities of Pentium IIs made their appearance when other shortages were biting.
  • Because they are New York too - except that there the economic crisis is biting, and shopping is something other people do.
Synonyms
take effect, have an effect, be effective, be efficacious, work, function, act, have results, take hold; succeed, be successful, work out, go as planned, have the desired effect/result
informal come off, pay off, do the trick, do the business
North American informal turn the trick
2.4North American informal Be very bad, unpleasant, or unfortunate: it bites that your mom won’t let you go
More example sentences
  • I am trying so hard and it bites that I can't really get to the gym consistently.
  • It bites that hockey-loving kids are denied their seasonal TV fix.
  • If it's not fun then it just bites...right?

noun

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1An act of biting something in order to eat it: Stephen ate a hot dog in three big bites
More example sentences
  • I held one out in my hand and the donkey ate it in big bites.
  • He runs his hand through his hair before eating his piece in two bites.
  • He eats the piece voraciously in several huge bites dropping the remainder.
Synonyms
mouthful, piece, morsel, bit
1.1A wound inflicted by an animal’s or a person’s teeth: Percy’s dog had given her a nasty bite
More example sentences
  • Deep puncture wounds from animal bites become morbid if not promptly tended and closely followed.
  • Not only can rats inflict a nasty bite, they are associated with disease.
  • If the wound was caused by an animal bite, you should report it to the county public health department.
Synonyms
nip, snap, chew, munch, nibble, gnaw
1.2A wound inflicted by a snake, insect, or spider: my legs were covered in mosquito bites
More example sentences
  • Check your children for ticks, insect bites and allergic reactions.
  • All were covered with insect bites, were underfed, and three had malaria.
  • I woke up to discover I am covered with mosquito bites from head to toe, from sleeping with at D's house with the windows open.
Synonyms
1.3An instance of bait being taken by a fish: by four o’clock he still hadn’t had a single bite
More example sentences
  • The only odd thing about fishing for orfe in very cold conditions with bottom baits is the bites.
  • I fished on for some thirty minutes without a bite then changed over to lobworm, still no success.
  • Most big-game fish bites come one at a time and so it is normal for everyone to take their turn in trying to catch a fish, which translates into taking it in turns to deal with a bite.
1.4 Dentistry The bringing together of the teeth so that the jaws are closed.
More example sentences
  • One of the more important aspects of mandibular reduction is to seat the occlusion or bite, as it existed before the accident.
  • To detect tooth decay and oral cancer, check your bite and determine if you have problems such as grinding your teeth or problems with your jaw joint.
  • As your child grows older, you may be concerned about his or her bite and the straightness of his or her teeth.
1.5 Dentistry An imprint of the position of the teeth when the jaws are closed, made in a plastic material.
More example sentences
  • The authors present a computer vision technique for the acquisition and processing of 3-D images of the profile of wax dental imprints in the automation of diagnosis in orthodontics.
  • A double impression 'bite' is made, allowing both the shape of the teeth to be cast and the occlusion to be fixed.
  • The wax bite is removed and chilled for a moment in cold water.
2A piece cut off by biting: Robyn took a large bite out of her sandwich
More example sentences
  • Lady Hammer smiled, taking a bite from her own piece of the sweet bread.
  • She broke the bread in half, replacing the bigger portion to the tray and took a bite of the piece she held.
  • I glared at her while taking a bite of the scrumptious piece of buttered and toasted bread.
2.1 informal A quick snack: I plan to stop off in the village and have a bite to eat
More example sentences
  • When we were flying about all over the place we would always try to catch up for an hour in the day to grab a bite to eat or have a quick pint before going on to our next appointments.
  • Unlike last year, there won't be a bar so bring a packed lunch for a bite to eat and drink.
  • With only a couple hours in-between events you barely have enough time to grab a bite to eat and a quick shower before it is time to chamois-up again and hit the road.
Synonyms
snack, light meal, something to eat, mouthful, soupçon, nibbles, titbit, savoury, appetizer; refreshments
informal bite to eat, a little something
British informal elevenses
2.2A small morsel of prepared food, intended to constitute one mouthful: bacon bites with cheese
More example sentences
  • These pom-pom cocktail sticks are adorable - and so much more fun than just regular toothpicks for small bites of food.
  • Partying Muscovites do not do insignificant taster bites of food; they do whole meals.
  • There are also fried shrimp, some very fresh crisp celery, carrots and cucumbers with a creamy dip, and some lightly cornmeal-crusted bites of fish.
2.3A short piece of information.
More example sentences
  • That's a perspective that we don't have from the very short news bites.
  • You and your child are watching ESPN Sportscenter and you see these short news bites.
  • With a large cast on his hands, Whedon had to give audiences a sense of each character in short, economic bites.
3A sharp or pungent flavour: a fresh, lemony bite
More example sentences
  • The prawns were top quality with a real bite and flavour that carried through the spicy sauce.
  • The Spaniard insists on only being occasionally surprised by a piquant bite of hot pepper.
  • Sherry vinegar brightens salad dressings with a sharp bite of purple grapes.
Synonyms
piquancy, pungency, spice, spiciness, saltiness, pepperiness, flavour, flavouring, savour, taste, tastiness, relish, tang, zest, sharpness, tartness, interest, edge, effect, potency
informal kick, punch, oomph, zing
3.1 [mass noun] Incisiveness or cogency of style: the tale has added bite if its characters appear to be real
More example sentences
  • For all that, it remained a good newspaper, with style, bite and flair and a welcome contrast to the more predictable Herald and Sun.
  • Contrasting the performance of girls and boys adds extra bite to the analysis.
  • The new drummer, clearly a big Keith Moon fan, added some much needed energy and bite to the songs.
3.2A feeling of cold in the air or wind: by early October there’s a bite in the air
More example sentences
  • Out of the sun, though, there was still a cold bite to the air.
  • Inside the park, suddenly feeling the bite of a chill wind under a slate-grey sky, the marchers stood and listened to speakers whose delivery seldom lived up to the occasion.
  • The sun is out, there's a cold bite to the air, it's fresh and, at last, the best season of the year has arrived.

Origin

Old English bītan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bijten and German beissen.

Phrases

someone's bark is worse than their bite

see bark1.
More example sentences
  • If someone's bark is worse than their bite, they get angry and shout and make threats, but don't actually do anything.
  • Crusading journalism's bark is worse than its bite.
  • Though he does have very strong opinions, I think his bark is worse than his bite and I hear it on good authority he can be won over.

be bitten by the —— bug

Develop a passionate interest in a specified activity: Joe was badly bitten by the showbiz bug at the age of four
More example sentences
  • Seems that Bob has been bitten by the sales bug after his experiences at Imvector.
  • In 1994, while I was a managing editor at Doubleday, I acquired my first book and was bitten by the acquisitions bug.
  • Have I been bitten by the Wi-Fi bug?

bite the big one

North American informal Die: the Premier bit the big one, supposedly an automobile accident
More example sentences
  • Don't let the evildoers say that Liberty bites the big one.
  • The filmmakers do go out of their way, however, to remove as much culpability from Cordell as possible when a villain bites the big one, like ducking just in time for a baddie to get stuffed with an arrow fired by his own co-villain.
  • Sargon is supposedly killed when Kirk dies, but he doesn't die and yet the being inside Spock bites the big one when Spock dies.

bite the bullet

Decide to do something difficult or unpleasant that one has been putting off or hesitating over: decisions have to be taken and as director you have got to bite the bullet
[from the old custom of giving wounded soldiers a bullet to bite on when undergoing surgery without anaesthetic]
More example sentences
  • But now I have decided to bite the bullet and give it a go.
  • I decided to bite the bullet and spend the money to rebuild her engine.
  • We decided to bite the bullet, and implement the scheme in order to raise standards, for the sake of Merton's children.

bite the dust

informal
Be killed: the baddies bite the dust with lead in their bellies
More example sentences
  • And whole nations of bad guys would bite the dust.
  • I'm not going to talk baby talk to Annie and teach her the Disney world of violence with no consequences, where the bad guy always bites the dust and the good guy lives happily ever after.
  • I had started seed last summer and put out some transplants last fall, and they bit the dust with our harsh winter.
Synonyms
die, pass away/on, expire, decease, perish, depart this life, be no more, breathe one's last, draw one's last breath, meet one's end, meet one's death, meet one's Maker, give up the ghost, go to the great beyond, cross the great divide, shuffle off this mortal coil, go the way of the/all flesh, go to one's last resting place
British informal snuff it, peg out, pop one's clogs
Fail or come to an end: she hoped the new course would not bite the dust for lack of funding
More example sentences
  • By the time DOS bit the dust in the fall of 2001, the company whose growth it ignited was valued at $341 billion.
  • Also biting the dust will be the Metropole's ballroom and other rooms, centres of many late night jazz festival gigs and other functions.
  • The games are being run off thick and fast and the results as usual in a competition with such a high class field have been mixed to say the least with an odd big name biting the dust.
Synonyms
fail, be unsuccessful, not succeed, lack success, fall through, fall flat, break down, abort, miscarry, be defeated, suffer defeat, be in vain, be frustrated, collapse, founder, misfire, backfire, not come up to scratch, meet with disaster, come to grief, come to nothing, come to naught, miss the mark, run aground, go astray
informal flop, fizzle out, come a cropper, bomb, blow up in someone's face, go down like a lead balloon

bite the hand that feeds one

Deliberately hurt or offend a benefactor.
More example sentences
  • It's funny to hear a filmmaker bite the hand that feeds.
  • And then its more prophetic voice might be muted or silenced because it doesn't want to bite the hand that feeds.
  • Aunt Marthy's passive hopefulness is problematic for Linda but critiquing it would be to bite the hand that feeds and inspires her.

bite someone's head off

see head.

bite one's lip

Repress an emotion; stifle laughter or repress a retort: she bit her lip to stop the rush of bitter words
More example sentences
  • Ashley felt the beginning of a smile, and she bit her lip.
  • She bit her lip; suddenly realizing she'd used the term "amazing" a lot since arriving in London.
  • I bit my lip and forced myself to be calm.

bite one's nails

Chew at one’s nails as a nervous habit: I used to bite my nails
More example sentences
  • This particular piece of info/tip relates to writing novels - a distressingly bad habit, like biting your nails, which some of you seem to have picked from mixing with entirely the wrong people.
  • Parents must keep their children away from unsterile food and prevent such habits as biting their nails.
  • The relationship seems to work wonders on him, too, as he begins to shed pounds, visit the gym and even break his long-standing habit of biting his nails.

bite off more than one can chew

Take on a commitment one cannot fulfil: serves him right for biting off more than he could chew
More example sentences
  • The problem isn't tennis; it's biting off more than you can chew and trying to swallow it in one big gulp.
  • Don't bite off more than you can chew.
  • So be there six sharp - make your own forensic analysis, bite off more than you can chew and catch some local talent at the same time.

the biter bitten (or bit)

Used to indicate that someone is being treated in the same way that they have treated others, typically badly: now the cruel biter was being cruelly bitten
More example sentences
  • It's the old tale of the biter bit: Jarrett finds he doesn't hold all the cards, and Raja exacts revenge for being made to look like Liberace.
  • So the irony is delightful, a case of the biter bit, sort of, except that it is the NSW taxpayers that will have been bitten in the end if this judgement is upheld in any appeal.
  • Just twelve months later, he almost repeated the trick, taking Luton back to the final, though this time it was a case of the biter bit as, after leading 1 -, they finally succumbed 3-1 to Cloughie's Nottingham Forest.

bite one's tongue

Make a desperate effort to avoid saying something: I had to bite my tongue and accept his explanation
More example sentences
  • Parents should bite their tongue and make an effort to get along with a teacher.
  • Julian gaped at him for a moment before abruptly leaving the office, biting his tongue to avoid saying things he wanted to but which would surely cost him his job.
  • She bit her tongue in a large effort not to say what had floated across her mind.

one could have bitten one's tongue off

Used to convey that one profoundly and immediately regrets having said something: as soon as he had spoken, Grant could have bitten his tongue off
More example sentences
  • Even as the question left my lips, I could have bitten my tongue off.
  • He cried, and the next instant could have bitten his tongue off for the childish vanity of the speech.
  • He could have bitten his tongue off the moment the words were spoken.

once bitten, twice shy

proverb An unpleasant experience induces caution.
More example sentences
  • There will be an element of once bitten, twice shy with investors who will shy away from going back into equities.
  • The Kerry champions, on their first visit to Croke Park as a club, played with the conservatism and nervousness of a team that had been here before, once bitten, twice shy.
  • But her resilient, pragmatic approach won over voters who could arguably have been once bitten, twice shy about returning any sort of Thatcher to victory.

put the bite on

North American & Australian/NZ informal Borrow or extort money from: a deadbeat diner tried to put the bite on a restaurant
[ 1930s (originally US): bite, from the slang sense 'deception']
More example sentences
  • Damn, I thought, putting the bite on me for food money.
  • I'm no elitist and I'm all for genuine homeless people getting a better deal all round, but it beggared belief to see him shopping with the people he was putting the bite on just minutes before.
  • It is scandalous is that while Catholic schools across the country have missed out on anywhere between $560 million and $2-3 billion over the past four years, they have put the bite on parents to make up some of the difference.

take a bite out of

informal Reduce by a significant amount: commissions that can take a bite out of your retirement funds
More example sentences
  • It is not clear precisely how long that period was, but it clearly takes a bite out of that 9 month period.
  • Energy costs are taking a bite out of household budgets, especially for lower-income families.
  • It must have seemed like Groundhog Day, as problems at his American West Coast subsidiary Pacificorp took a bite out of the Glasgow utility's share price.

Phrasal verbs

bite something back

Refrain with difficulty from saying something, making a sound, or expressing an emotion: Melissa bit back a scathing comment
More example sentences
  • I was going to retort with some scathing sarcasm, but I bit it back for one reason.
  • A pathetic sound ripped out of her before she could bite it back.
  • Nervous laughter welled up but she bit it back, knowing how crazy it would sound.

Derivatives

biter

noun
More example sentences
  • Named after its white-striped legs, the tiger mosquito is a vicious biter that transmits tropical viruses including dengue fever, yellow fever and forms of encephalitis.
  • I would like to add that every dog is potentially a biter, and that it takes early bite-inhibition training and thorough socialization to minimize the chances of a dog losing its cool.
  • Unless the bitee is severely allergic to the biter's venom, what will usually result is some swelling, chest pains and fever.

Definition of bite in:

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Word of the day flippant
Pronunciation: ˈflipənt
adjective
not showing a serious or respectful attitude