bite the bullet


a small metal projectile, part of a cartridge, for firing from small arms. See diag. under cartridge.
a cartridge.
a small ball.
Printing. a heavy dot for marking paragraphs or otherwise calling attention to or itemizing particular sections of text, especially in display advertising.
Cards. an ace.
verb (used without object), bulleted, bulleting.
to move swiftly.
bite the bullet, to force oneself to perform a painful, difficult task or to endure an unpleasant situation: We'll just have to bite the bullet and pay higher taxes.

1550–60; < Middle French boullette, equivalent to boulle ball (see bowl2) + -ette -ette

bulletless, adjective
bulletlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
bullet (ˈbʊlɪt)
1.  a.  a small metallic missile enclosed in a cartridge, used as the projectile of a gun, rifle, etc
 b.  the entire cartridge
2.  something resembling a bullet, esp in shape or effect
3.  stock exchange a fixed interest security with a single maturity date
4.  commerce a security that offers a fixed interest and matures on a fixed date
5.  commerce
 a.  the final repayment of a loan that repays the whole of the sum borrowed, as interim payments have been for interest only
 b.  (as modifier): a bullet loan
6.  slang (Brit) dismissal, sometimes without notice (esp in the phrases getorgive the bullet)
7.  printing See centred dot
8.  bite the bullet See bite
[C16: from French boulette, diminutive of boule ball; see bowl²]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1550s, from M.Fr. boulette "cannonball, small ball," dim. of boule "a ball" (13c.), from L. bulla "round thing, knob" (see bull (2)). Earliest version of bite the bullet recorded 1891, probably with a sense of giving someone something to clench in the teeth during a painful operation.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

bite the bullet definition

To adjust to unpleasant circumstances: “The severe drought is forcing everybody to bite the bullet and use less water.” Before anesthesia, people undergoing surgery would bite on a bullet to help them withstand the pain.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

bite the bullet

Behave bravely or stoically when facing pain or a difficult situation, as in If they want to cut the budget deficit, they are going to have to bite the bullet and find new sources of revenue. This phrase is of military origin, but the precise allusion is uncertain. Some say it referred to the treatment of a wounded soldier without anesthesia, so that he would be asked to bite on a lead bullet during treatment. Also, Francis Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1796) holds that grenadiers being disciplined with the cat-o'nine-tails would bite on a bullet to avoid crying out in pain.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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