verb (used without object), bul·let·ed, bul·let·ing.
Origin of bullet
- a small metallic missile enclosed in a cartridge, used as the projectile of a gun, rifle, etc
- the entire cartridge
- the final repayment of a loan that repays the whole of the sum borrowed, as interim payments have been for interest only
- (as modifier)a bullet loan
Word Origin for bullet
1550s, from Middle French boulette "cannonball, small ball," diminutive of boule "a ball" (13c.), from Latin bulla "round thing, knob" (see bull (n.2)). Earliest version of bite the bullet recorded 1891, probably with a sense of giving someone a soft lead bullet to clench in the teeth during a painful operation.
bite the bullet
To adjust to unpleasant circumstances: “The severe drought is forcing everybody to bite the bullet and use less water.” Before anesthesia, people undergoing surgery would bite on a bullet to help them withstand the pain.
bite the bullet
Behave bravely or stoically when facing pain or a difficult situation, as in If they want to cut the budget deficit, they are going to have to bite the bullet and find new sources of revenue. This phrase is of military origin, but the precise allusion is uncertain. Some say it referred to the treatment of a wounded soldier without anesthesia, so that he would be asked to bite on a lead bullet during treatment. Also, Francis Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1796) holds that grenadiers being disciplined with the cat-o'nine-tails would bite on a bullet to avoid crying out in pain.
see bite the bullet; sweat bullets.