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bark is worse than his bite

A person seems more hostile or aggressive than is the case, as in Dad sounds very grouchy in the morning, but his bark's worse than his bite. This phrase was a proverb by the mid-1600s.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.