[champ, chomp]

verb (used with object)

to bite upon or grind, especially impatiently: The horses champed the oats.
to crush with the teeth and chew vigorously or noisily; munch.
to mash; crush.

verb (used without object)

to make vigorous chewing or biting movements with the jaws and teeth.


the act of champing.


    champ at the bit, to betray impatience, as to begin some action.
Also chomp.

Origin of champ

1520–30; perhaps akin to chap1; see chop1
Related formschamp·er, nounchamp·y, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for champ at the bit




to munch (food) noisily like a horse
(when intr, often foll by on, at, etc) to bite (something) nervously or impatiently; gnaw
champ at the bit or chafe at the bit informal to be impatient to start work, a journey, etc


the act or noise of champing
Ulster dialect a dish, originating in Ireland, of mashed potatoes and spring onions or leeks
Derived Formschamper, noun

Word Origin for champ

C16: probably of imitative origin




informal short for champion (def. 1)
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 champ at the bit



1868, American English abbreviation of champion (n.).



"to chew noisily," 1520s, probably echoic; OED suggests a connection with jam (v.). Earlier also cham, chamb, etc. To champ on (or at) the bit, as an eager horse will, is attested in figurative sense by 1640s. Related: Champed; champing. As a noun in this sense, attested from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with champ at the bit

champ at the bit

Show impatience at being held back or delayed, as in The dismissal bell hadn't rung, but they were champing at the bit to leave. This term transfers the action of a horse that impatiently bites the bit in its mouth to human behavior. [Mid-1600s]


In addition to the idiom beginning with champ

  • champ at the bit

also see:

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