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bit between one's teeth

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To face up resolutely to a hard task: “Ralph is having a difficult time in medical school now, but once he takes the bit between his teeth, there's no stopping him.” The bit is the part of a bridle that fits into a gap between the teeth in the back of a horse's mouth. By pulling on the reins, which in turn pull the bit back against the horse's mouth, the rider is able to stop or turn the horse. If the horse takes the bit between its teeth, it can't be stopped.

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Do you know the difference between everyday US and UK terminology? Test yourself with this quiz on words that differ across the Atlantic.
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In the UK, COTTON CANDY is more commonly known as…

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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