Language: Old English
Origin: bitan


1 verb
Related topics: Illness and Disability
bite1 S2 past tense bit past participle bitten present participle biting


[intransitive and transitive] to use your teeth to cut, crush, or chew something:
The dog bit him and made his hand bleed.
bite into/through/at/down
She bit into a croissant and took a sip of coffee.
An adult conger eel can easily bite through a man's leg.
Nina pushed her fist into her mouth and bit down hard.
bite something off
a man whose arm was bitten off by an alligator
bite your nails (=bite the nails on your fingers, especially because you are nervous)
I wish I could stop biting my nails.
bite your lip (=because you are upset or not sure what to say)
She paused uncertainly, biting her lip.


[intransitive and transitive]MIHB to injure someone by making a hole in their skin [↪ sting]:
I think I've been bitten.
The dog's been badly bitten by fleas.

press hard

[intransitive] if an object bites into a surface, it presses firmly into it and does not move or slip
bite into
The hooves of the galloping horses had bitten deep into the soft earth.
He wore boots that bit into the ice.


[intransitive] to start to have an unpleasant effect:
The new tobacco taxes have begun to bite.
bite into
The recession is biting into the music industry.


[intransitive] to believe what someone tells you or to buy something they are selling, especially when they have persuaded you to do this:
The new camcorders were withdrawn after consumers failed to bite.


[intransitive] if a fish bites, it takes food from a hook and so gets caught:
The fish just aren't biting today.

bite your tongue

to stop yourself from saying what you really think, even though this is difficult:
She should have bitten her tongue.

bite the dust

informal to die, fail, or be defeated:
Italy's championship hopes eventually bit the dust.

bite the bullet

informal to start dealing with an unpleasant or dangerous situation because you cannot avoid it any longer:
I finally bit the bullet and left.

bite off more than you can chew

to try to do more than you are able to do

he/she won't bite

spoken used to say that there is no need to be afraid of someone, especially someone in authority:
Well go and ask him - he won't bite!

what's biting you/her etc?

spoken used to ask why someone is annoyed or upset

something/somebody bites

spoken not polite used to say that you dislike someone or something very much or think that something is very bad

once bitten, twice shy

used to say that if you have failed or been hurt once, you will be more careful next time

bite the hand that feeds you

to harm someone who has helped or supported you

be bitten by the showbiz/travel/flying etc bug

to develop a very strong interest in something

➔ bite somebody's head off

at head1 (33)

bite back

phrasal verb

bite something ↔ back

to stop yourself from saying or showing what you really think:
Tamar bit back the retort which sprang to her lips.
2 to react strongly and angrily to something
bite back at
Determined to bite back at car thieves, he wired his car to an electric fence.

Dictionary results for "bite"
Dictionary pictures of the day
Do you know what each of these is called?
What is the word for picture 1? What is the word for picture 2? What is the word for picture 3? What is the word for picture 4?
Click on any of the pictures above to find out what it is called.