nipping; smarting; keen: biting cold; a biting sensation on the tongue.
cutting; sarcastic: a biting remark.

Nearby words

  1. bitemporal hemianopsia,
  2. biteplate,
  3. biter,
  4. bitewing,
  5. bithynia,
  6. biting louse,
  7. biting mania,
  8. biting midge,
  9. biting point,
  10. biting stage

Origin of biting

First recorded in 1250–1300, biting is from the Middle English word bitynge. See bite, -ing2

Related formsbit·ing·ly, adverbbit·ing·ness, nounnon·bit·ing, adjectiveun·bit·ing, adjective



verb (used with object), bit, bit·ten or bit, bit·ing.

to cut, wound, or tear with the teeth: She bit the apple greedily. The lion bit his trainer.
to grip or hold with the teeth: Stop biting your lip!
to sting, as does an insect.
to cause to smart or sting: an icy wind that bit our faces.
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.
to start to eat (often followed by into): She bit into her steak.
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.
  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?
to eat into or corrode, as does an acid.
to cut or pierce with, or as with, a weapon: The sword split his helmet and bit him fatally.
Etching. to etch with acid (a copper or other surface) in such parts as are left bare of a protective coating.
to take firm hold or act effectively on: We need a clamp to bite the wood while the glue dries.
Archaic. to make a decided impression on; affect.

verb (used without object), bit, bit·ten or bit, bit·ing.

to press the teeth into something; attack with the jaws, bill, sting, etc.; snap: Does your parrot bite?
Angling. (of fish) to take bait: The fish aren't biting today.
to accept an offer or suggestion, especially one intended to trick or deceive: I knew it was a mistake, but I bit anyway.
Informal. to admit defeat in guessing: I'll bite, who is it?
to act effectively; grip; hold: This wood is so dry the screws don't bite.
Slang. to be notably repellent, disappointing, poor, etc.; suck.


an act of biting.
a wound made by biting: a deep bite.
a cutting, stinging, or nipping effect: the bite of an icy wind; the bite of whiskey on the tongue.
a piece bitten off: Chew each bite carefully.
a small meal: Let's have a bite before the theater.
a portion severed from the whole: the government's weekly bite of my paycheck.
a morsel of food: not a bite to eat.
the occlusion of one's teeth: The dentist said I had a good bite.
  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.
sharpness; incisiveness; effectiveness: The bite of his story is spoiled by his slovenly style.
the roughness of the surface of a file.
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.

Origin of bite

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

Related formsbit·a·ble, bite·a·ble, adjective

Can be confusedbight bite byte Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for biting

British Dictionary definitions for biting



piercing; keena biting wind
sarcastic; incisivea biting comment
Derived Formsbitingly, adverb


verb bites, biting, bit or bitten

to grip, cut off, or tear with or as if with the teeth or jaws
(of animals, insects, etc) to injure by puncturing or tearing (the skin or flesh) with the teeth, fangs, etc, esp as a natural characteristic
(tr) to cut or penetrate, as with a knife
(of corrosive material such as acid) to eat away or into
to smart or cause to smart; stingmustard bites the tongue
(intr) angling (of a fish) to take or attempt to take the bait or lure
to take firm hold of or act effectively upon
to grip or hold (a workpiece) with a tool or chuck
(of a screw, thread, etc) to cut into or grip (an object, material, etc)
(tr) informal to annoy or worrywhat's biting her?
(often passive) slang to cheat
(tr often foll by for) Australian and NZ slang to ask (for); scrounge from
bite off more than one can chew informal to attempt a task beyond one's capability
bite the bullet to face up to (pain, trouble, etc) with fortitude; be stoical
bite someone's head off to respond harshly and rudely (to)
bite the dust See dust (def. 11)
bite the hand that feeds one to repay kindness with injury or ingratitude
once bitten, twice shy after an unpleasant experience one is cautious in similar situations
put the bite on someone Australian slang to ask someone for money


the act of biting
a thing or amount bitten off
a wound, bruise, or sting inflicted by biting
angling an attempt by a fish to take the bait or lure
informal an incisive or penetrating effect or qualitythat's a question with a bite
a light meal; snack
a cutting, stinging, or smarting sensation
the depth of cut of a machine tool
the grip or hold applied by a tool or chuck to a workpiece
dentistry the angle or manner of contact between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed naturally
the surface of a file or rasp with cutting teeth
the corrosive action of acid, as on a metal etching plate
Derived Formsbiter, noun

Word Origin for bite

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

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for biting
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for biting




To cut, grip, or tear with the teeth.
To pierce the skin of with the teeth, fangs, or mouthparts.


The act of biting.
A puncture or laceration of the skin by the teeth of an animal or the mouthparts of an insect or similar organism.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with biting


In addition to the idioms beginning with bite

  • bite off more than one can chew
  • bite one's nails
  • bite one's tongue
  • bite someone's head off
  • bite the bullet
  • bite the dust
  • bite the hand that feeds you

also see:

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

Also seebitten.

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