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[bahyt] /baɪt/
verb (used with object), bit, bitten or bit, biting.
to cut, wound, or tear with the teeth:
She bit the apple greedily. The lion bit his trainer.
to grip or hold with the teeth:
Stop biting your lip!
to sting, as does an insect.
to cause to smart or sting:
an icy wind that bit our faces.
to sever with the teeth (often followed by off):
Don't bite your nails. The child bit off a large piece of the candy bar.
to start to eat (often followed by into):
She bit into her steak.
to clamp the teeth firmly on or around (often followed by on):
He bit hard on the stick while they removed the bullet from his leg.
  1. to take advantage of; cheat; deceive:
    I got bitten in a mail-order swindle.
  2. to annoy or upset; anger:
    What's biting you, sorehead?
to eat into or corrode, as does an acid.
to cut or pierce with, or as with, a weapon:
The sword split his helmet and bit him fatally.
Etching. to etch with acid (a copper or other surface) in such parts as are left bare of a protective coating.
to take firm hold or act effectively on:
We need a clamp to bite the wood while the glue dries.
Archaic. to make a decided impression on; affect.
verb (used without object), bit, bitten or bit, biting.
to press the teeth into something; attack with the jaws, bill, sting, etc.; snap:
Does your parrot bite?
Angling. (of fish) to take bait:
The fish aren't biting today.
to accept an offer or suggestion, especially one intended to trick or deceive:
I knew it was a mistake, but I bit anyway.
Informal. to admit defeat in guessing:
I'll bite, who is it?
to act effectively; grip; hold:
This wood is so dry the screws don't bite.
Slang. to be notably repellent, disappointing, poor, etc.; suck.
an act of biting.
a wound made by biting:
a deep bite.
a cutting, stinging, or nipping effect:
the bite of an icy wind; the bite of whiskey on the tongue.
a piece bitten off:
Chew each bite carefully.
a small meal:
Let's have a bite before the theater.
a portion severed from the whole:
the government's weekly bite of my paycheck.
a morsel of food:
not a bite to eat.
the occlusion of one's teeth:
The dentist said I had a good bite.
  1. the catch or hold that one object or one part of a mechanical apparatus has on another.
  2. a surface brought into contact to obtain a hold or grip, as in a lathe chuck or similar device.
  3. the amount of material that a mechanical shovel or the like can carry at one time.
sharpness; incisiveness; effectiveness:
The bite of his story is spoiled by his slovenly style.
the roughness of the surface of a file.
Metalworking. the maximum angle, measured from the center of a roll in a rolling mill, between a perpendicular and a line to the point of contact where a given object to be rolled will enter between the rolls.
bite off more than one can chew, to attempt something that exceeds one's capacity:
In trying to build a house by himself, he bit off more than he could chew.
bite someone's head off, to respond with anger or impatience to someone's question or comment:
He'll bite your head off if you ask for anything.
bite the bullet. bullet (def 7).
bite the dust. dust (def 21).
bite the hand that feeds one, to repay kindness with malice or injury:
When he berates his boss, he is biting the hand that feeds him.
put the bite on, Slang.
  1. to solicit or attempt to borrow money or something of value from.
  2. to press for money, as in extortion:
    They found out about his prison record and began to put the bite on him.
Origin of bite
before 1000; Middle English biten, Old English bītan; cognate with Old High German bīzan (German beissen), Gothic beitan, Old Norse bīta; akin to Latin findere to split
Related forms
bitable, biteable, adjective
Can be confused
bight, bite, byte.
1. gnaw, chew, nip. 22. mouthful, morsel, taste; scrap, crumb, dab. 23. snack, nosh. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for bite
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You would get hold of the end and unwind it, just as I bite off this knot.

    Perlycross R. D. Blackmore
  • Procinus, however, was spared to die of the bite of a viper.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • The creature was over seven feet long, and a bite from its fangs would quickly have proved fatal.

    In the Wilds of Florida W.H.G. Kingston
  • Won't you stop for a bite and fresh water with friends of the cause?

    The Rock of Chickamauga Joseph A. Altsheler
  • It had seized the shaft of the harpoon, which had broken in two, and was endeavouring to bite through the rope.

    Adventures in Africa W.H.G. Kingston
British Dictionary definitions for bite


verb bites, biting, bit, bitten
to grip, cut off, or tear with or as if with the teeth or jaws
(of animals, insects, etc) to injure by puncturing or tearing (the skin or flesh) with the teeth, fangs, etc, esp as a natural characteristic
(transitive) to cut or penetrate, as with a knife
(of corrosive material such as acid) to eat away or into
to smart or cause to smart; sting: mustard bites the tongue
(intransitive) (angling) (of a fish) to take or attempt to take the bait or lure
to take firm hold of or act effectively upon
to grip or hold (a workpiece) with a tool or chuck
(of a screw, thread, etc) to cut into or grip (an object, material, etc)
(transitive) (informal) to annoy or worry: what's biting her?
(often passive) (slang) to cheat
(Austral & NZ, slang) (transitive) often foll by for. to ask (for); scrounge from
(informal) bite off more than one can chew, to attempt a task beyond one's capability
bite the bullet, to face up to (pain, trouble, etc) with fortitude; be stoical
bite someone's head off, to respond harshly and rudely (to)
bite the dust, See dust (sense 11)
bite the hand that feeds one, to repay kindness with injury or ingratitude
once bitten, twice shy, after an unpleasant experience one is cautious in similar situations
(Austral, slang) put the bite on someone, to ask someone for money
the act of biting
a thing or amount bitten off
a wound, bruise, or sting inflicted by biting
(angling) an attempt by a fish to take the bait or lure
(informal) an incisive or penetrating effect or quality: that's a question with a bite
a light meal; snack
a cutting, stinging, or smarting sensation
the depth of cut of a machine tool
the grip or hold applied by a tool or chuck to a workpiece
(dentistry) the angle or manner of contact between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed naturally
the surface of a file or rasp with cutting teeth
the corrosive action of acid, as on a metal etching plate
Derived Forms
biter, noun
Word Origin
Old English bītan; related to Latin findere to split, Sanskrit bhedati he splits
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bite

Old English bitan (class I strong verb; past tense bat, past participle biten), from Proto-Germanic *bitan (cf. Old Saxon bitan, Old Norse and Old Frisian bita, Middle Dutch biten, Dutch bijten, German beissen, Gothic beitan "to bite"), from PIE root *bheid- "to split, crack" (see fissure).

To bite the bullet is said to be 1700s military slang, from old medical custom of having the patient bite a lead bullet during an operation to divert attention from pain and reduce screaming. Figurative use from 1891; the custom itself attested from 1840s. To bite (one's) tongue "refrain from speaking" is 1590s. To bite the dust "die" is 1750 (Latin had the same image; cf. Virgil: procubuit moriens et humum semel ore momordit). To bite off more than one can chew (c.1880) is U.S. slang, from plug tobacco.


c.1200, from bite (v).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bite in Medicine

bite (bīt)
v. bit (bĭt), bit·ten (bĭt'n) or bit, bit·ing, bites

  1. To cut, grip, or tear with the teeth.

  2. To pierce the skin of with the teeth, fangs, or mouthparts.

  1. The act of biting.

  2. A puncture or laceration of the skin by the teeth of an animal or the mouthparts of an insect or similar organism.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for bite



  1. One's share of, or the amount of, a sum owed or demanded: We owe ten thousand, so what's my bite? (1950s+)
  2. A short excerpt or film-clip shown on television news (1980s+)


  1. To accept a deception as truth: She said she was rich, and he bit
  2. To borrow money from; PUT THE BITE ON someone or something: He bit me for six bills and left town/ You think I come here to bite you for money (1920s+ Australian)
  3. To anger; annoy; vex: She wouldn't tell me what was biting her (1900s+)
  4. (also bite on) To appropriate; steal; take over: to bite a popular expression (1980s+)
  5. suck (1970s+ Teenagers)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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bite in Technology
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Related Abbreviations for bite


built-in test equipment
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with bite
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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