View synonyms for bite


[ bahyt ]

verb (used with object)

, bit, bit·ten or bit, bit·ing.
  1. to cut, wound, or tear with the teeth:

    She bit the apple greedily. The lion bit his trainer.

    Synonyms: nip, chew, gnaw

  2. to grip or hold with the teeth:

    Stop biting your lip!

  3. to sting, as does an insect.
  4. to cause to smart or sting:

    an icy wind that bit our faces.

  5. 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.

  6. to start to eat (often followed by into ):

    She bit into her steak.

  7. 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.

  8. Informal.
    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?

  9. to eat into or corrode, as does an acid.
  10. to cut or pierce with, or as with, a weapon:

    The sword split his helmet and bit him fatally.

  11. Etching. to etch with acid (a copper or other surface) in such parts as are left bare of a protective coating.
  12. to take firm hold or act effectively on:

    We need a clamp to bite the wood while the glue dries.

  13. Archaic. to make a decided impression on; affect.

verb (used without object)

, bit, bit·ten or bit, bit·ing.
  1. to press the teeth into something; attack with the jaws, bill, sting, etc.; snap:

    Does your parrot bite?

  2. Angling. (of fish) to take bait:

    The fish aren't biting today.

  3. to accept an offer or suggestion, especially one intended to trick or deceive:

    I knew it was a mistake, but I bit anyway.

  4. Informal. to admit defeat in guessing:

    I'll bite, who is it?

  5. to act effectively; grip; hold:

    This wood is so dry the screws don't bite.

  6. Slang. to be notably repellent, disappointing, poor, etc.; suck.


  1. an act of biting.
  2. a wound made by biting:

    a deep bite.

  3. a cutting, stinging, or nipping effect:

    the bite of an icy wind; the bite of whiskey on the tongue.

    Synonyms: dab, crumb, scrap, taste, morsel, mouthful

  4. a piece bitten off:

    Chew each bite carefully.

    Synonyms: nosh, snack

  5. a small meal:

    Let's have a bite before the theater.

  6. a portion severed from the whole:

    the government's weekly bite of my paycheck.

  7. a morsel of food:

    not a bite to eat.

  8. the occlusion of one's teeth:

    The dentist said I had a good bite.

  9. Machinery.
    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.
  10. sharpness; incisiveness; effectiveness:

    The bite of his story is spoiled by his slovenly style.

  11. the roughness of the surface of a file.
  12. 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.


/ baɪt /


  1. to grip, cut off, or tear with or as if with the teeth or jaws
  2. (of animals, insects, etc) to injure by puncturing or tearing (the skin or flesh) with the teeth, fangs, etc, esp as a natural characteristic
  3. tr to cut or penetrate, as with a knife
  4. (of corrosive material such as acid) to eat away or into
  5. to smart or cause to smart; sting

    mustard bites the tongue

  6. intr angling (of a fish) to take or attempt to take the bait or lure
  7. to take firm hold of or act effectively upon
  8. to grip or hold (a workpiece) with a tool or chuck
  9. (of a screw, thread, etc) to cut into or grip (an object, material, etc)
  10. informal.
    tr to annoy or worry

    what's biting her?

  11. slang.
    often passive to cheat
  12. slang.
    troften foll byfor to ask (for); scrounge from
  13. bite off more than one can chew informal.
    to attempt a task beyond one's capability
  14. bite the bullet
    to face up to (pain, trouble, etc) with fortitude; be stoical
  15. bite someone's head off
    to respond harshly and rudely (to)
  16. bite the dust
    See dust
  17. bite the hand that feeds one
    to repay kindness with injury or ingratitude
  18. once bitten, twice shy
    after an unpleasant experience one is cautious in similar situations
  19. put the bite on someone slang.
    to ask someone for money


  1. the act of biting
  2. a thing or amount bitten off
  3. a wound, bruise, or sting inflicted by biting
  4. angling an attempt by a fish to take the bait or lure
  5. informal.
    an incisive or penetrating effect or quality

    that's a question with a bite

  6. a light meal; snack
  7. a cutting, stinging, or smarting sensation
  8. the depth of cut of a machine tool
  9. the grip or hold applied by a tool or chuck to a workpiece
  10. dentistry the angle or manner of contact between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed naturally
  11. the surface of a file or rasp with cutting teeth
  12. the corrosive action of acid, as on a metal etching plate

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Derived Forms

  • ˈbiter, noun

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Other Words From

  • bita·ble bitea·ble adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of bite1

First recorded 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”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of bite1

Old English bītan ; related to Latin findere to split, Sanskrit bhedati he splits

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. bite / snap 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.

  4. 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.

  5. bite the bullet. bullet ( def 7 ).
  6. bite the dust. dust ( def 21 ).

More idioms and phrases containing bite

  • bark is worse than one's bite
  • put the bite on
  • sound bite
  • bitten

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Example Sentences

If I’m looking at an enterprise size ecommerce site, I like to approach this in bite size pieces rather than tackling the entire site at the same time.

The discovery raises the possibility that caecilians may be the first amphibians found capable of delivering a venomous bite.

Scientists waiting with forceps and a razor on a lab rooftop tried to mimic bee activity in real time, bite by bite, on comparison plants.

Ancient relatives of today’s anchovies once had quite the bite.

People really need to understand that they need to do something, do it regularly, and it’s okay to take it in small bites.

Leapolitan responded by saying, “hopefully youll [sic] bite into a poison apple.”

One bite too many, and I could look down and practically see my thighs expanding before my eyes.

Taking a bite out of it made me feel like I was at a family bris… in a good, nostalgic way.

She has this little bit of a bite to her and a fight within her that does come through in little moments.

As soon as she took a bite of the apple, she fell to the ground and was dead.

Woe to the man that first did teach the cursed steel to bite in his own flesh, and make way to the living spirit.

But if people will insist on patting a strange poet, they mustn't be surprised if they get a nasty bite!

At noon we camped, and cooked a bite of dinner while the horses grazed; ate it, and went on again.

The insects frequently hibernate in warmed houses, and may bite during the winter.

He showed his rows of little, straight, white teeth, which looked strong enough to bite through a bar of iron.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




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