v. bit (bĭt), bit·ten (bĭtn) or bit, bit·ing, bites
1. To cut, grip, or tear with or as if with the teeth.
a. To pierce the skin of with the teeth, fangs, or mouthparts.
b. To sting with a stinger.
3. To cut into with or as if with a sharp instrument: The axe bit the log deeply.
4. To grip, grab, or seize: bald treads that couldn't bite the icy road; bitten by a sudden desire to travel.
5. To eat into; corrode.
6. To cause to sting or be painful: cold that bites the skin; a conscience bitten by remorse.
1. To grip, cut into, or injure something with or as if with the teeth.
2. To have a stinging effect.
3. To have a sharp taste.
4. To take or swallow bait.
5. To be taken in by a ploy or deception: tried to sell the Brooklyn Bridge, but no one bit.
6. Vulgar Slang To be highly disagreeable or annoying.
1. The act of biting.
2. A skin wound or puncture produced by an animal's teeth or mouthparts: the bite of an insect.
a. A stinging or smarting sensation.
b. An incisive, penetrating quality: the bite of satire.
4. An amount removed by or as if by an act of biting: Rezoning took a bite out of the town's residential area.
5. An excerpt or fragment taken from something larger, such as a film.
a. An amount of food taken into the mouth at one time; a mouthful.
b. Informal A light meal or snack.
7. The act or an instance of taking bait: fished all day without a bite; an ad that got a few bites but no final sales.
a. A secure grip or hold applied by a tool or machine upon a working surface.
b. The part of a tool or machine that presses against and maintains a firm hold on a working surface.
9. Dentistry The angle at which the upper and lower teeth meet; occlusion.
10. The corrosive action of acid upon an etcher's metal plate.
11. Slang An amount of money appropriated or withheld: trying to avoid the tax bite.
bite off more than (one) can chew
To decide or agree to do more than one can finally accomplish.
bite (someone's) head off
To respond to a comment in an angry or reproachful way.
bite the bullet Slang
To face a painful situation bravely and stoically.
bite the dust Slang
1. To fall dead, especially in combat.
2. To be defeated.
3. To come to an end.
bite the hand that feeds (one)
To repay generosity or kindness with ingratitude and injury.
[Middle English biten, from Old English bītan; see bheid- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
bita·ble, bitea·ble adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.