Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bite v.

1. to cheat, to deceive; thus bitten, deceived, hoaxed; biting, cheating or deceiving.

[UK]G. Whetstone Mirrour for Magestrates of Citties (2nd edn) J4: All the better for a biting cheter. Close in a chamber a cogging knaue getteth more money in an houre, than many an honest man spendeth in a yere.
[UK]Nicker Nicked in Harleian Misc. II (1809) 109: When a young gentleman or apprentice comes into this school of virtue unskilled in the quibbles and devices there practised, they call him a lamb; then a rook (who is properly the wolf) follows him close and [...] gets all his money, and then they smile and say, ‘The lamb is bitten’.
[UK]Wycherley Love in a Wood III i: I dare no more venture myself with her alone, than a Culley that has been bit, dares venture himself in a Tavern, with an old Rook.
[UK]Cibber Woman’s Wit I i: Have you not bit me, my dear Son?
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Bite the Biter, c. to Rob the Rogue, Sharp the Sharper, or Cheat the Cheater.
[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 10 Sept. 24: I’ll hold fifty to one, his Virgin has not only bit him of his Money, but Pox’d him into the Bargain.
[US]Spectator 504: A biter is one who tells you a thing you have no reason to disbelieve in itself, and perhaps has given you, before he bit you, no reason to disbelieve it for his saying it; and if you give him credit, laughs in your face, and triumphs that he has deceived you [F&H].
[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 230: They have discover’d the clandestine methods he us’d to bite them in horse-matches at Newmarket.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) 202: Bite the Biter, that is, to rob the rogue, sharp the sharper, or cheat the cheater. Bite the Cully, i.e., to put the cheat on the silly fellow.
[UK]J. Gay Beggar’s Opera III ii: The Gamesters united in Friendship are found [...] They bite their Companions, and prey on their Friends.
[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 13: He understanding his Trade as well as they did theirs, very ingeniously bit the Biters, and return’d them old-made-up Wigs for their new Hair.
The life of Tho. Neaves title page: [T]he Art of Sharping, Tricking, Biting and Filching.
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 130: Your Wife is a Bite, Sir, says the Bucherly Villain, But I think I have bit the Biter.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 11 Sept. 142/2: When we have got the Reward we will snack the Cole between us, and bite all the rest.
[UK]Smollett (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas III 143: I don’t want [...] a valet of such a religious deportment; I have been already bit by such another.
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 21: The Glimmerer has bit the bubbing cully of his bung.
[UK]Foote The Bankrupt II ii: The people of this country are always ready to bite at a bubble.
[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 179: However the biters may be bit.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Biting was once esteemed a kind of wit, similar to the humbug. An instance of it is given in the Spectator: A man under sentence of death having sold his body to a surgeon rather below the market price, on receiving the money, cried, A bite! I am to be hanged in chains.
[UK]G.A. Stevens Adventures of a Speculist I 25: To be humm’d, and to hum, are our losses and gains; / When bit we complain. but when biting we’re mum.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 324: That great den of thieves, the Alley, / Where had he staid, he might have bit / A thousand honest people yet.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Aug. XIV 275/1: The second bargain was struck at six guineas and a half – this was considered as only biting the biter.
[UK] ‘The Exciseman’ in Holloway & Black (1979) II 95: I’m not to be bit / For you’ve smuggl’d that stuff.
[UK]W. Combe Doctor Syntax, Picturesque (1868) 69/1: Pray have you travell’d so far north, / To think we have so little wit, / As by such biters to be bit?
[UK]Merry Song Called Love in a Barn 6: If you can bite this am’rous blade, / rewarded you shall be.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London II 96: ‘The lucky hit was all a miss.’ ‘Yes, there was a Miss taken, and a Biter bit. Love is a lottery as well as life.’.
[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 310: Well, Adams, [...] are you convinced at last that we have been most cursedly bitten?
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 274: I was properly bit by them, you may depend; they didn’t pay cost, for I couldn’t recommend them with a clear conscience.
[UK]Thackeray Yellowplush Papers Works III (1898) 336: You were completely bitten, my boy – humbugged, bamboozled – ay, and by your old father, you dog.
[UK] ‘A Blow-Out for Breakfast’ in Ri-tum Ti-tum Songster 43: Here is the biter bit.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick in England II 239: It’s biter bit, and I don’t pity you one mossel.
[UK]Sinks of London Laid Open 51: To all of which the bite, or rather the bitten, answered, with good-humoured smiles.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Young Tom Hall (1926) 183: I don’t hold with some that, because I’ve been bit, I’ve to bite others. Oh no, that’s not the way — fair dealin’s a jewel.
[Aus]W. Howitt Two Years in Victoria (1855) I 24: If he had not been too ’cute to be bitten twice by the over-’cute ‘gumsuckers,’ as the native Victorians are called.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick’s Wise Saws I 46: He was bit.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[US]Galaxy (N.Y.) May 656: He may be as stupid a dolt as ever fell prey to the sharper, but yet has sense enough to know that his is only a case of the biter very savagely bitten, and that so far as intention is concerned he is many degrees more depraved than his city confederate. [...] Therefore the poor bitten rogue must nurse his anguish in secret; his money has gone to the dogs, and he has only to mention the fact to throw his reputation after it.
[UK]Sportsman (London) 9 Mar. 2/1: When the biter gets bitten, nobody objects. When a so-called greenhorn gets taken in by a three-card man, who cares?
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 22 Dec. 10/1: If you [...] are careful not to show any considerable sum of money anywhere, the bunco man won’t bite you.
[US]H. Green Mr. Jackson 203: So I am bitten, and I can’t do one thing to stop my ruin.
[UK]C.G. Gordon Crooks of the Und. 125: The distinction between the two verbs – to tap and to bite – is this: Whereas a person ‘tapped’ must part with his dough generously and freely [...] the victim of the ‘bite’ had no intention of parting with any of his superfluous cash.

2. to rob, to steal; thus bit/bitten, robbed, stolen; biting, robbing, stealing.

[UK]Greene Second Part of Conny-Catching in Grosart (1881–3) X 99: The Priggar [...] perceiued he was bitten of all the bite in his bung.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Taylors Goose’ in Works (1869) I 108: She oft with biting makes a Knight a detter / And rankle to a Begger, little better.
[UK] ‘An Ancient Song of Bartholemew Fair’ in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads (1893) VII:1 227: But the Cut-purses they do bite and run away, but those I suppose are Ill-Birds.
[Ire]Head Eng. Rogue I 47: Bite the Peter or Roger, Steal the Portmantle or Cloak-bag.
[UK]A Newgate ex-prisoner A Warning for House-Keepers 5: We bite the Culley of his cole / But we are rubbed unto the Whitt.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 31 Aug. n.p,: Mary Steers, was Tryed for picking the Pocket of one John Worsly [...] the Prisoner had confessed she had bit him, and gave King 10 s. for her snack, as she termed it.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 195: The Glimmerer has bit the bubbling Cully of his bung [The Link man has robb’d the Drunken Cully of his Purse].
[UK]‘Black Procession’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 38: The thirteenth a famble, false rings for to sell, / When a mob, he has bit his cole he will tell.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) 202: Bite the Bill from the Cull, whip the sword from the gentleman’s side […] Bite the Roger, i.e., to steal the portmanteau. Bite the wiper, i.e., to steal the handkerchief.
[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 28: Black Isaac could Bite a Clout, as dexterously as any File in Town.
[UK]Pope Mother Gin 9: The feeding kids that wipers bite (A kid signifies, in the Canting Dialect, a child; and to bite the wiper is to steal the handkerchief).
[UK] ‘No Wit like to a Woman’s’ Exeter Garland 6: I’ll go in this Disguise, And bite the good Woman of all the golden prize.
[UK](con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in Groom (1999) xxviii: A Trap He that after a Buttock and file, has bit a Cull of his Pocket-Book, makes it his Business to find out where the Man lives, and extort Money from him to prevent his being exposed.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK] ‘The Bowman Prigg’s Farewell’ in Wardroper (1995) 283: Now the bitch pads it in jail / And laughs at the culls she has bit.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]W. Combe Doctor Syntax, Picturesque (1868) 69/1: Pray have you travell’d so far north, / To think we have so little wit, / As by such biters to be bit?
[UK]C. Dibdin Yngr Larks of Logic, Tom and Jerry I i: You be a funny chap, Mr. Logic; aye bless you, we ofter get bit.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Hillingdon Hall II 146: His respectable appearance, his plausible tongue [...] aided by Mr. Jorrocks’s unsuspecting confidence and self-sufficiency, had afforded him opportunities that his able mind knew well how to make the most of. He had bit him.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict. n.p.: Bit to be cheated.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[UK] ‘Thief-Catcher’s Prophecy’ in W.H. Logan Pedlar’s Pack of Ballads 143: [as cit. 1712].
[UK]J. Mair Hbk of Phrases 10: Biter (The) Bit. One caught in his own snare [...] The man told the story, when the chancellor exclaimed, ‘It is the biter bit’.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).

3. (also bite on) to ‘fall for’, to ‘take the bait’.

[UK]J. Day Ile of Guls II i: Will the Cods head bite?
[UK]L. Barry Ram-Alley II i: Has the gudgin bit?
[UK]Tinker of Turvey 8: They will bite at anything.
[UK]T. Duffet Empress of Morocco Prologue: Then hungry jilt that rails at Play, ’Cause Cully will not bite to day, And’s eager grown for want of prey.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: He will not bite, or swallow the Bait, He won’t be drawn in.
[UK]London-Bawd (1705) Ch. iv: Do you but bring us together, and then leave it to me to make him bite.
[UK]New Canting Dict.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[Ire]C. Macklin Love à la Mode II i: He is taking him in—the bubble’s bit.
[UK]Foote Bankrupt in Works (1799) II 116: The people of this country are always ready to bite at a bubble.
[UK]G.A. Stevens Adventures of a Speculist I 25: To be humm’d, and to hum, are our losses and gains; / When bit we complain, but when biting we’re mum.
[UK]Jew Swindler n.p.: Well — my pretty, precious, punctual little Rogue, — what news, do they bite?
[US]Ely’s Hawk and Buzzard (N.Y.) 21 Sept. 1/3: 1833: The nuns who were at the Bowery theatre on Monday night, found business on the increase, the flats bit well and some of the prime uns nibbled.
[UK]Marryat Snarleyyow I 295: ‘So the fool has bit already,’ thought she.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 207/2: They always bite at them.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 143: ‘How is the best way to get some of that money?’ [...] ‘I’ll play monte for you; perhaps he’ll bite at that.’.
[US]P.L. Dunbar ‘A Confidence’ The Lyrics of Lowly Life 173: Tried to ketch me up last night, / But you bet I would n’t bite.
[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 185: It was a deal ’t I’d thought about a lot, and the farmers bit like suckers.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 7 Feb. 4/5: He explained [...] what an excellent advertisement he would ensure for himself by. presenting tile departing war correspondent with a first-class machine [...] The cycle man ‘bit,’ and handed overa brand new bike.
[US]O. Johnson Varmint 58: I remember that coat gag now [...] I bit once – way back in ’89.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 9 June 5/4: Ted F.’s white trousers and hot socks didn’t make the girls bite any more than his black ones .
[UK]Wodehouse Carry on, Jeeves 81: What a perfectly foul time those Stock Exchange fellows must have when the public isn’t biting freely.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Red Wind’ in Red Wind (1946) 50: ‘That’s enough,’ the big man said. ‘I’ll bite, Dalmas.’.
[US]R. Chandler High Window 126: ‘And what gives me the right to talk to you at all?’ I said. ‘I’ll bite. What does?’.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Rock 84: He figures to keep everything in his cellar. Me, Gimpy and Ramon don’t bite on that.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Sat. Night and Sun. Morning 48: But Jack, unlike the fish, [...] did not bite either.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 61: Dealer turned them over when he saw Gannex wasn’t biting.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 112: The Spartanburg story had a sex-slavery angle as well, but Flemm still didn’t bite.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 78: I give her the eye but she’s not biting.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 108: Kids [...] deliberately trying to provoke him, but Mr Clark don’t bite.
[Aus]C. Hammer Silver [ebook] Martin doesn’t bite. ‘Her boy. Is he okay?’.

4. to worry, to annoy, to irritate; often ext. as bite one’s ass.

Terence in Eng. n.p.: Male habet virum. It grieveth him, it biteth him [F&H].
[US]S.E. White Arizona Nights II 220: What’s biting the locoed stranger?
[UK]Wizard 27 Jan. 92: What’s bitten Dave, running off like that!
[US]Ashville Citizen-Times (NC) 18 Apr. 32/3: ‘What’s biting you, Bluey?’ I asked as his cussing continued.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 224: ‘Does she love you?’ ‘Gor blimey now you’re arsting me something. I don’t know and that’s what’s biting me.’.
[Ire] (con. 1900s) S. O’Casey Drums Under the Windows 337: Wot was bitin’ ’em? Barmy, th’ lot of ’em.
[US]L. Uris Battle Cry 129: What’s biting his ass?
[US]A. Zugsmith Beat Generation 24: What’s biting me is, I can’t blow the joint tonight.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 80: Guessing now what was biting him, I smiled.
[Aus]K. Tennant Tell Morning This 156: ‘What’s biting this mug? [...] From the silly look on his mush you’d think he was a bloody imbecile’.
[Ire]P. Boyle All Looks Yellow to the Jaundiced Eye 153: What’s biting him?
[UK](con. 1940s) J.G. Farrell Singapore Grip 406: What’s biting the old man?
[US]S. King Dolores Claiborne 284: There was somethin else bitin me, too [...] Somethin way wrong about the whole proposition.

5. to overreach, to impose.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

6. to cadge or borrow from, usu. money; thus bitten; biteable, subject to importuning for cash.

[UK]R.S. Surtees Young Tom Hall 7: ‘Don’t like the milintary, replied Hall [...] ‘That’s only because Captain Sloper bit you’ [...] Hall [...] had had the offer of many other ‘bites’ beside Sloper’s — for escaping which he was more indebted to his own acuteness than to the candour of the would-be biters.
[UK]Sporting Times 7 Jan. 1/3: We’re always being ‘whispered’ to and ‘bitten’—understand?
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 2 Dec. 18/2: He was just biting him for a tenner.
C. Drew ‘Gorilla Grogan’ in Bulletin (Sydney) 26 July 40/2: Snatcher had been a member of most of the leading sporting clubs, but he’d bitten his way out of them all.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 68: I can bite anyone, go into places wiv dogs, ask in shops, do fings I’d never do for meself, jus’ for somebody else.
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 370: I been expecting her to drop in and bite me for a few bob.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Oct. 13/3: Ned looked the supplicant quizzically up and down and said, ‘Hmnn, have you ever bit me before?’ ‘No,’ beamed the biter confidently. ‘Well,’ replied the big bloke [...] ‘I ain’t puttin’ on no new customers!’.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Gone Fishin’ 36: Still bites me for a quid every year to renew his licence.
[Aus](con. 1930s) F. Huelin ‘Keep Moving’ 4: We’ll bite the butcher and baker as we go in [...] They’re a hungry mob but we’ll give ’em a go.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 12: He bit me once and I only had enough cash for two more drinks [...] and I said no.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mud Crab Boogie (2013) [ebook] Les bit Billy for some change.
[Aus]P. Doyle (con. late 1950s) Amaze Your Friends (2019) 149: He as theoretically biteable for virtually any amount.

7. (Aus.) to complain.

[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 7 Feb. 7/3: Sol. J. was biting over the ‘Sport’ on Saturday .

8. to be objectionable, distasteful, unpleasant; thus as n., a disparaging person.

[UK]Wodehouse Psmith Journalist (1993) 220: Don’t bite at me [...] This isn’t my funeral. I’ve no kick coming.
[Aus]R. Park Poor Man’s Orange 196: Ah, don’t be such a bite, Seppa! Ain’t his fault he’s black.
[US](con. 1940s) G. Mandel Wax Boom 260: Man, don’t be biting at me.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 37: It bites that I have two finals in a row tomorrow.
Online Sl. Dict. 🌐 bite v 1. to be of poor quality, displeasing. (‘That movie really bites’.).

9. (US black) to deceive sexually [underpinned by SE backbite].

C. Lincoln ‘Hard Luck Blues’ 🎵 She’s a married woman but she says she likes me, / Hate to bite my frien’, but somebody been bitin’ me.

10. to pressurize, to blackmail.

[US]R. Chandler Lady in the Lake (1952) 30: He looks like an easy man to bite.

11. (US gay) to fellate.

[US](con. 1940s) C. Bram Hold Tight (1990) 185: Hold tight, hold tight. / I bite all night.

12. (rap music) to plagiarize lyrics; thus biting, copying another artist; similarly used by graffiti artists.

[US]Sugar Hill Gang ‘Rapper’s Delight’ 🎵 I didn’t ever bite / Not a goddam word.
[US]Roxanne Shante ‘Bite This’ 🎵 Talk about how they so devoted / Bite my rhymes and swear they wrote it.
[US]Source Jan. 52: Real MCs don’t bite from anybody.
[US]Source Oct. 199: Only that person who everyone is biting gonna be the one to survive.
[US]W. Shaw Westsiders 68: Accusing him of [...] ‘biting’ his rap style.
[UK]N. Macdonald Graffiti Subculture xi: Bite: To copy another writer’s work.
Kanye West untitled track 🎵 on College Dropout [album] Don’t bite that chorus – I might still use it.

13. (US campus, also bite off, bite on) to copy, e.g. a suit of clothes.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 1: bite – copy: Jean, you’re biting my dress today.
[US](con. 1982–6) T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 87: To him, slang is an event, like a dance step, a movement, a gestural display; a linguistic happening for other teenagers. But they, too, have to command a unique presence, not just ‘bite’ his style.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 44: The field that I call destruction is the largest and encompasses several hundred slang items built on forms that in general usage refer to kinds of injury, harm, decomposition, or incapacitation: bite on ‘imitate’.
[US]Mad mag. Apr. 48: Two weeks later, Nelly’s on the cover of The Source, rocking the face bandage and totally biting off Osama’s style.

In phrases

bite off (v.)

see sense 11 above.

bite on (v.)

1. see sense 2 above.

2. see sense 11 above.

bite the blow (v.) [SE blow, a hit]

to accomplish a major theft.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Bite the blow, c. accomplish’d the Theft, plaied the Cheat, or done the Feat: You have Bit a great Blow, c. you have Robb’d some body of a great deal, or to a considerable value.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) II.
[UK]New Canting Dict.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: blow (cant) he has bit the blow, i.e. he has stolen the goods.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
bitten out (adj.)

(Aus.) subjected to as much begging and cadging as a place and its population will tolerate.

[Aus](con. 1930s) F. Huelin ‘Keep Moving’ 46: Eventually we decided that Bendigo was ‘bitten out’.
on the bite

(Aus.) demanding money, either as payments, loans or bribes.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 28/2: Bite, on the. 1. Begging or borrowing small sums with no intention of repayment. 2. Engaged in petty extortion of sums from proprietors of shady establishments without rendering oneself liable to legal qualification as an extortionist or blackmailer.
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 232: I’ve got coves on the bite all the time.
sheep-biter (n.)

1. a wretched, miserable person; thus sheep-biting.

[UK]Nashe Death and Buriall of Martin Mar-Prelate in Works I (1883–4) 153: And the Captaine Cuffe of this bouncing band, was the old Sheepbiter, the auncient Gentleman this our young masters Father.
[UK]G. Harvey Pierce’s Supererogation 132: Knaues are backbiters; whores bellybiters; and both sheepbiters.
[UK]J. Cooke How A Man May Choose A Good Wife From A Bad Act II: When didst thou see the starueling School-maister? That Rat, that Shrimp, that Spindle-shank, that Wren, that sheep-biter, that leane chittiface.
[UK]Middleton Chaste Maid in Cheapside II ii: Sheep-biting Mungrels, Hand-basket Freebooters.
[UK]Webster Duchess of Malfi V ii: I’ll crawl after like a sheep-biter.
[Ire]Head Hic et Ubique V vi: The baseness and unworthiness of my Husband’s carriage (that hangs down his Head like a Sheep-biter) were enough to distract any one.
[UK]Female Wits II i: Well, sheep-biters, begin!
[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: Sheep-biter, a poor, sorry, sneaking, ill-lookt Fellow.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 296: Those damn’d copper-nos’d sheep-biters.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 39: Those damn’d copper-nos’d sheep-biters.
[Aus]Age (Melbourne) 13 Apr. 2/2: They turn pages at random, discovering that sheep-biter is a shifty, sneaking or thieving fellow and also one whoring after women.

2. a womanizer; thus sheep-biting [plays on mutton n. (1b)].

[UK]Chapman May-Day III i: I wish all such old sheep-biters might always dip their fingers in such sauce to their mutton.
[UK]R. Brome Covent-Garden Weeded IV i: Nay, you slave, we’ll mark you for a Sheep-biter.
[T. Betterton] Amorous Widow 5: How soon the poor Fellow was tir’d [i.e. of sex with an older lover] too! How like a Sheep-biter he look’d after the first Two Months!
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy II 345: You that are plying for Sheepbiters here, And hope to sell your Mutton Loyns so dear.
[UK]Garrick Miss in her Teens II i: As for you, dear Husband, show your manhood in a proper place and you need not fear these sheep-biters.
[UK]T. Gray Candidate 1: Lord! Sister says Physic to Law, I declare Such a sheep-biting look, [...] his eyes are so lewd!
see sense 1.

3. a sheep-stealer.

[UK]Laugh and Be Fat 142: On a Wool-Comber, who was hang’d for Sheep-Stealing. Beneath this Gallows lies Tom Kemp, / Who’d liv’d by Wool, and dy’d by Hemp; / The Fleece would not suffice the Glutton, / But with it he must steal the Mutton; / Had he but work’d, and liv’d uprighter, / He’d ne’er been hang’d for a Sheep-biter.
[UK]Nottingham Rev. 26 Mar. 4/4: A Sheep-Biter — Ann Lyon was charged [...] with feraudulently obtaining three pounds of mutton chops.
what’s biting you? (also what’s bitten you? what’s itching you?)

what’s the matter? what’s the problem?

[US]Dakota Farmers’ Leader (Canton, SD) 19 Dec. 3/3: Say, Tom, a republican congress passed the pauper pension bill and pigeon-holed the service pension bill. What’s biting you?
Florence Trib. (AZ) 18 Dec. 1/3: I want to know what’s biting you [...] quit chewing the rag and spit it out.
[US]Salt Lake Herald-Republican (UT) 5 Dec. 42: She turned to Roberts. ‘First off, what’s biting you?’.
[US]Van Loan ‘Little Sunset’ in Ten-Thousand-Dollar Arm 98: What’s biting you? Tryin’ to stand ’em up for more money?
[US]F. Packard Adventures of Jimmie Dale (1918) II xi: ‘Well, wot’s bitin’ youse?’ inquired the Magpie ironically.
[US]‘Max Brand’ ‘Above the Law’ in Coll. Stories (1994) 40: What’s bitin’ you?
[US]F. Packard White Moll 176: Wot’s bitin’ youse, Nan?
Smith’s Wkly 20 Aug. 11/1: Slanguage. [...] Construct sentences including the following phrases: [...] ‘Wot’s bitin’ you?’.
[Aus](con. WWI) L. Mann Flesh in Armour 140: ‘Well, what’s biting you?’.
[US]O. Strange Sudden 32: ’Lo, Luce, what’s bitin’ yu?
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 369: ‘Why — what’s bitin’ you?’ asked Frank, a trifle impatiently.
[Aus]D. Stivens Courtship of Uncle Henry 47: What the hell’s biting you?
[UK]K. Howard Small Time Crooks 85: Well! What’s bitin’ you?
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 37: Now, what’s biting you, Mort?
[US]E. De Roo Go, Man, Go! 42: ‘What’s itchin’ ya?’ Gil demanded.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Start in Life (1979) 256: What’s biting you, then?
[Aus]M. Bail Homesickness (1999) 101: What’s bitten you?
[UK]C. Dexter Remorseful Day (2000) 74: So what’s biting you?

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

In compounds

bite-up (n.)

a quarrel.

[Scot]Eve. Teleg. 12 Feb. 6/5: The conversation [...] is not likely to end in a ‘bite-up’ (quarrel).
biting dog (n.)

(US gay) the anal sphincter in the context of intercourse.

[US] (ref. to late 1950s) B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 19: biting dog (late ’50s, fr pros sl) the anal sphincter muscle as it contracts during anal intercourse.

In phrases

bite-and-blow (n.)

see separate entry.

bite feathers (v.) [the image of the passive partner in sodomy biting the pillow]

(US gay) to lie on one’s stomach.

[US]Lavender Lex. n.p.: bite feathers:- To lie on one’s stomach.
bite it (v.) [abbr. bite the dust under dust n.] (US)

1. to die.

[US](con. 1969) M. Herr Dispatches 56: He who bites it this day is safe from the next.
[US](con. 1970) S. Wright Meditations in Green (1985) 201: Guy flies two hundred missions without a scratch [...] bites it on the ground in his own bed. What irony.
[US]J. Wambaugh Golden Orange (1991) 348: I looked down the barrel more than once. I truly wanted to bite it. Now maybe I wanna live.
[US]J. Ridley What Fire Cannot Burn 88: She didn’t care about skydiving one time before she bit it.
[US]G. Pelecanos (con. 1972) What It Was 123: Jones has a big set of nuts [...] but he’s gonna bite it.

2. to trip, to fall.

[US]Teen Lingo: The Source for Youth Ministry 🌐 bite it v. To trip or fall down, usually hurting oneself. ‘Did you see Bobby bite it when he was trying to hop that rail?’.
bite (it) off (v.) (also bite it) [lit. bite one’s tongue off]

(US) to restrain oneself, to stop talking.

[US]‘Jonathan Slick’ High Life in N.Y. II 48: I had to bite off short, for a chap come aboard the sloop with Captin Doolittle.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 381: ‘Say, bite it off for a minute,’ interrupted Ex-Tank No. 7.
[US]D.G. Phillips Susan Lenox II 121: ‘Oh, bite it off!’ cried the darker of the two men.
L.J. Vance Cynthia 172: ‘Ah, bite that off!’ Rhode interrupted impatiently [DA].
[US]Current Sl. VI 1: Bite it, v. To be quiet.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Spring 1: bite off – leave me alone!
bite one’s bait (v.) [16C bait, food; the image is of ‘chewing over’ the topic]

(US) to pause before making too precipitate a decision.

[US] in DARE.
bite one’s grannam (v.) (also bite one’s grandam) [SE grannam, corn, the basic constituent of some spirits]

to become very drunk.

[UK]Eighth Liberal Science n.p.: No man must call a Good-fellow Drunkard [...] But if at any time they spie that defect in another, they may without any forfeit or just exceptions taken, say, He is Foxt, He is Flaw’d, He is Fluster’d, He is Suttle, Cupshot, Cut in the Leg or Back, He hath seen the French King, He hath swallowed an Hair or a Taven-Token, he hath whipt the Cat, He hath been at the Scriveners and learned to make Indentures, He hath bit his Grannam, or is bit by a Barn Weasel.
[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 23 1–8 Nov. 197: She had the same Night bitt her Grannam, and commited powltry with the Gentle-Craft.
[Ire]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) n.p.: No man ought to call a Good-fellow a Drunkard; but [...] he may without a forfeit say he [...] hath bit his Grannam.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK] ‘The Art of Drinking’ in Wit’s Cabinet 138: He has bit his Grandam.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
bite one’s lips (v.) [? one’s intoxicated state leads to such injury]

(drugs) to smoke marijuana.

[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore 17: Bite one’s lips on bambalachas – To find succor in the smoke of blue sage (hashishi) cigarettes.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 3: Bite one’s lips — To smoke marijuana.
bite one’s nails (v.)

(US gay) for one homosexual man to use mutually recognizable coded gestures to indicate his interest to another.

[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 4: biting their nails (v., n.): Coded gestures used by homosexuals in public places signifying to other homosexuals that they are interested in meeting them.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
bite one’s name in (v.)

to drink heavily.

[UK]Pierce Egan’s Life in London 25 Mar. 901/2: The ‘would be Beak, alias Trappy Dick,’ in company with the Spitalfields-body-snatcher, and the beardless boy, called to bite their names at the Soup-house, on their return home from the race.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 5: Biting your name in – taking a large draught, drinking greedily.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 5 July 4/2: Chaffing Joe boasted that ho could slang a cab-man into high-strikes before the waterman could bite his name in a pot of hot purl.
bite one’s/the thumb at (v.) [the gesturer extends the thumb and clicks its nail forward on the front teeth]

to make a gesture of contempt or of threat.

[UK]Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet I i: I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them if they bear it.
[UK]T. Randolph Muses’ Looking-Glass III iii: Daggs and Pistolls! To bite his thumb at me! Weare I a sword to see men bite their thumbs? Rapiers and Daggers!
[Rules of Civility (trans. from French) 44: ’Tis no less disrespectful to bite the nail of your thumb, by way of scorn and disdain, and drawing your nail from between your teeth, to tell them you value not this what they can do [N]].
[UK]R. Nares Gloss. (1888) I 81: To bite the thumb at a person. This was an insult. The thumb in this action represented a fig, and the whole was equivalent to a fig for you or the fico.
[US]N. Ames Mariner’s Sketches 103: All nations who shall dare to ‘bite their thumb’ at the said sailors.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 115: Gentlemen [...] will fall to and fight on the slightest pretext, whether it be the ‘bite of a thumb at them,’ or the using of disrespectful expressions, or a too vigorous push with the shoulder.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 17 Jan. 12/4: The King of Siam has 263 children, and he is under thirty years of age. Well, he needn’t ‘bite his thumb at us’.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘A Summer Masquerade’ in Gentle Grafter (1915) 90: How is it that you seem to be biting your thumb at good luck?
bite (on) the bridle (v.) (also bite on the bit, bite upon the bridle, chew on the bridle) [SE bite on the bridle, to champ at the bit, like a restless horse]

to be in reduced circumstances, to be impoverished.

J. Gower Confessio Amantis (1957) VI 1 929: And as who seith, upon lie bridel I chiewe .
[UK]Latimer Works II (1845) 57: We have much misery here in this world, though it goeth hard with us, though we must bite on the bridle, yet for all that we must be content.
[UK]Chapman & Jonson Eastward Ho! IV ii: They are like to bite o’ the bridle [i.e. to fast].
D. Rogers Matrimoniall Honour 300: Be quiet, my soule, bite not upon the bridle.
[UK]J. Ray Proverbs 164: To bite upon the bridle. That is, to fare hardly, to be cut short, or suffer want.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: To bite on the bit; to be pinched, or reduced to hard Meat, a scanty or sorry sort of Living.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) II.
[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: To bite on the Bit; to be pinched, or reduced to hard Meat, a scanty or sorry sort of Living.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Smollett (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas IV 248: The minister was going to retire into his closet, to bite upon the bridle at liberty.
[UK]Foote Maid of Bath in Works (1799) II 221: Folks that are idle, / May live to bite the bridle.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: To bite on the bridle: to be pinched or reduced to difficulties.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
bite on the nail (v.)

(US) to suffer in silence.

[[UK]N. Ward ‘The Poet’s Ramble after Riches’ in Writings (1704) 10: Then up starts he in mighty Anger, / And Swore, but that I was a Stranger, / Or else he further wou’d contend on’t, / Then bit his nails, and there’s an end on’t].
[US]E. Hemingway letter 31 Aug. in Baker Sel. Letters (1981) 550: Everybody is going to have to bite on the old nail in this case.
bite someone in/on the ass (v.)

(US) to take revenge on an individual, to harm, cause problems (for).

[US]R. Friedman Street Warrior 14: I thought it wise to give as many yes and no answers as possible, thinking whatever I say can come back to bite me in the ass.
[US](con. 1962) J. Ellroy Enchanters 135: ‘This bullshit caper [...] could bite us on the ass’.
bite someone’s ear (v.)

see under ear n.1

bite someone’s name (v.)

see under name n.

bite someone’s nose off (v.)

to attack verbally.

[UK]R. Broughton Nancy II 49: I will not say what I was going to say [...] I shall only get my nose bitten off if I do.
[UK]P. Theroux Kowloon Tong 55: You made it plain as day you didn’t want to know. But why bite his nose off like that?
bite the bag (v.) [? bag n.1 (1a)]

1. (US) to be very unsatisfactory; esp. as imper. excl. of dismissal, disapproval or contempt.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 75: Bite the bag: Expeleteive [sic] of disapproval or contempt.
[US]L. Bangs in Psychotic Reactions (1988) 144: I went and told second-liners Brownsville Station what I was going to do, and they laughed at me! Well, bite the bag, peons! I was in the majors now.
[US]G.A. Fine With the Boys 171: Boys may say to their friends, rivals, and enemies [...] ‘bite my bag’.
Eric Raymond Jargon File Version 4.2.3 🌐 ‘bite the bag’ vi. To fail in some manner. ‘The computer keeps crashing every five minutes.‘ ‘Yes, the disk controller is really biting the bag.’ The original loading of these terms was almost undoubtedly obscene, possibly referring to the scrotum [...], but in their current usage they have become almost completely sanitized.

2. (US campus) to be quiet, usu. as imper.

[US]Current Sl. VI.
bite the bullet (v.) (also bite on the bullet) [the placing of a bullet between the teeth of wounded soldiers or sailors when undergoing surgery in pre-anaesthesia days]

1. to suffer in silence.

[UK]H. Macilwaine Dinkinbar 79: I’ve got to bite on the bullet.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith Journalist (1993) 343: He did not repine. He bit the bullet. His eyes closed.
[UK]A. Christie Body in the Library (1959) 83: There was nothing for it but to bite on the bullet.
[UK]J. Braine Waiting for Sheila (1977) 102: You just had to bite the bullet, get on or go under.
[US]R. Price Breaks 423: You’ll just have to bite the bullet.
[UK]Guardian Weekend 3 July 51: Time for me to bite the bullet. Hoping for an anaesthetic first, though.

2. to do what is necessary, however unappealing.

[UK]Wodehouse Psmith in the City (1993) 157: Be a man. Bite the bullet. The first keen pang will pass.
[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 19: Brace up and bite the bullet.
[UK]Wodehouse Right Ho, Jeeves 261: We Woosters can bite the bullet. I nodded moodily and spread another slab of omelette.
[US]Time 14 Feb. 18: He decreed that it was ‘time to bite the bullet’ and end political appointment of postmasters and rural mail carriers.
[UK]Times 9 Apr. 8: The former film star added that college administrators should be willing to to ‘bite the bullet’and stand up to demonstrators.
[US]R. Price Breaks 32: Maybe I should have bitten the bullet and gone to St. John’s.
[US]Tarantino & Avery Pulp Fiction [film script] 56: Bite the fuckin’ bullet, take ’er to a hospital.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 27 Mar. 9: So I bit the bullet, bought a cart full of parts and built my own [...] computer.
[Scot]V. McDermid Out of Bounds (2017) 112: Tomorrow she’s bite the bullet and sort out some flyers.
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 117: After a year renting our ‘roach palace’ [...] Matt and I bite the bullet and buy a semi in Rozelle.
bite the dust (v.)

see under dust n.

bite the hairy banana (v.)

see under banana n.

bite the hand that feeds one (v.) [the image is of an ungrateful horse or dog]

to injure a benefactor, to act ungratefully.

[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 197: Don’t you know they always bite the hand that feeds them and lick the one that beats them down?
[US]Ade Old-Time Saloon 144: A consistent policy was to ‘fix’ the ‘harness bull’ on the beat, the theory being that any policeman who was a square guy would not bite the hand that was feeding him.
[UK]R. Hauser Homosexual Society 91: After being their ‘darling’ you become a nasty bit of work, ‘biting the hand that fed you’.
bite the root (v.) [image of root as something ‘low’]

to be third-rate.

[US]S. King Christine 93: That place bites the root anyway.
nail biter (n.)

(US) an anxiety-provoking situation, esp. a close contest.

Vancouver Sun 15 July A4: Here was a real nail-biter—the first major contract to be negotiated since wage controls were lifted [HDAS].
[US](con. c.1944) Kaplan & Smith One Last Look 85: It was, as one pilot said, ‘a real nail-biter’.
[UK]Guardian 23 Feb. 🌐 Highlights of last weekend’s nail-biters involving the Old Firm.
[UK]Guardian 16 May 🌐 Plot-wise, it is a fairly traditional psychological nail-biter.
tax bite (n.)

(US) the amount of tax one has to pay on a sum of money or salary cheque.

[US]Sun (Baltimore) 26 Jan. (B edn) 1/4: The Iowa senator called for...legislation by Congress to put a tax bite on foreign coffee traders operating in this country .
[US] Money at 21 Nov. 🌐 Want to reduce Uncle Sam’s tax bite? You’ll do much better if you start planning before Dec. 31.
that bites (the big one) [i.e. that must hurt very much]

(US campus) an expression of commiseration.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 1: that bites! – exclamation that means that is an unfortunate occurence.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Sept. 1: that bites – expression of displeasure or commiseration with someone in trouble.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 101: [...] that bites, that bites the big one, you know it, and you’re hating it are various ways of expressing commiseration in the face of misfortune.
[US]Teen Lingo: The Source for Youth Ministry 🌐 that bites A derogatory phrase exclaimed when the situation is not a good one. A phrase uttered when possibly unfair or unfavored circumstances are taking place.

In exclamations

bite my ass!

see separate entry.

bite it! [SE bite, ‘it’ is the penis or posterior]

(US) an excl. of aggressive dismissal.

J.G. Cozzens Guard of Honour 427: ‘Bite it!’ Sergeant Pellerino said.
[US]F. Kohner Gidget 110: ‘Bite it,’ I said—and headed for the surfline.
H. Zeybel First Ace 152: Bite it [HDAS].
bite me! (also bite me in the ass!) [ass n. (2)]

(US campus) a general derog./dismissive excl.

(con. WWII) J. Ross Dead Are Mine 134: Bite me in the ass, Stein [HDAS].
[US]G.A. Fine With the Boys 177: The insult category consisted of [...] : gaywad, bite me, doofy, dork, mutt.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 37: After Joe told Michelle that he wanted to see other girls, all she said was, ‘Bite me!’.
[US]M. Myers et al. Wayne’s World [film script] benjamin: As I explained earlier, we own the show. wayne: Ah, bite me!
Online Sl. Dict. 🌐 bite me 1. a command, similar to ‘Fuck off!’ (i.e. ‘Leave me alone!’ ‘Go away!’ etc.) Note: not considered vulgar but usually considered inappropriate in more formal settings.
C. Brookmyre Sacred Art of Stealing 375: ‘Oh yeah, and before that we’ve got to steal a statue for him, too’ ‘Pendejo’ ‘Bite me.’.
[US]T. Robinson Hard Bounce [ebook] ‘Going clam digging?’ I asked. ‘Bite me’.
bite the ice! (also make ice!) [the pain of chewing ice]

(US teen) an excl. of dismissal, ‘go to hell!’.

[US]R. De Christoforo Grease 117: Ehey, Kenick, make ice!
‘Valley Girls’ on Paranoiafanzine 🌐 A Good Put-Down: Oh Yeah? Well, bite the ice, Melvin!
bite this!

(US) a general derog. excl.

[US]Roxanne Shante [title] Bite This!