bite one's tongue


Refrain from speaking out, as in A new grandmother must learn to bite her tongue so as not to give unwanted advice, or I'm sure it'll rain during graduation.—Bite your tongue! This term alludes to holding the tongue between the teeth in an effort not to say something one might regret. Shakespeare used it in 2 Henry VI (1:1): “So York must sit and fret and bite his tongue.” Today it is sometimes used as a humorous imperative, as in the second example, with the implication that speaking might bring bad luck. [Late 1500s] Also see hold one's tongue.

QUIZZES

LEARN THE SPANISH WORDS FOR THESE COMMON ANIMALS!

Are you learning Spanish? Or do you just have an interest in foreign languages? Either way, this quiz on Spanish words for animals is for you.
Question 1 of 13
How do you say “cat” 🐈 in Spanish?
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.