Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bite n.1

1. in context of a monetary sum, esp. when begged or borrowed.

(a) a sum of money.

[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]Greene Defence of Conny-Catching 6: Some that would not stoope a farthing at cards, would venter all the byte in their boung at dice.

(b) (UK Und.) that which is cadged; a good bite, a complaisant victim.

[UK]C. Walker Authentick Memoirs of Sally Salisbury 120: Oh Madame, says the Conscious Bite, Dey be de ver fine Gold.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 245: Fleecing each other is an every-day practice—every one looks put upon his fellow as a bite.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 61: gonniff: Nix my schickster; do you see anything green about me? cos I doesn’t! its no bite my switcher, do you stag that? – walker!
[UK]Sinks of London Laid Open 51: To all of which the bite, or rather the bitten, answered, with good-humoured smiles.
[UK]M.E. Braddon Mohawks III 149: O, it was a bite of the most diabolical nature.
[Aus]J. Furphy Such is Life 177: Prospecting for a bite of grass.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 11 Mar. 1/1: The sixpenny cadger is becoming a big circumstance on the Perth landscape [...] his constant bites are producing a swelling on the public lug.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Little Miss Marker’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 302: He will hold still for a bite, if the bite is not too savage.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 34: Talking and smoking and comparing ‘handouts’ and ‘bites’ and good towns and ‘hungry tracks’.
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 56: Well heeled: A ‘flash bastard’ who’s got more money than sense. However, he might be good for a ‘bite’ (loan).

(c) a cadger.

[UK]Progress of a Rake 40: Some young Nobles / (Tho’ they were Gamesters, Bites, and Bubbles).
[UK]Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 691: From which circumstance it was conjectured that Peregrine was a bite from the beginning, who had found credit on account of his effrontery and appearance, and imposed himself upon the town as a young gentleman of fortune.
[UK]S. Jenys in Dodsley III 169: The fool would fain be thought a bite [F&H].

(d) (US) a share of profits.

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Down the Line 22: A bundle for a bite — you’re on a cold plate.
[US]A.J. Liebling Honest Rainmaker (1991) 22: The percentage [in faro] is almost nil [...] unlike the pari-mutuels, with their fearful sixteen-per-cent bite.

(e) an attempt to obtain a loan.

[UK]R.S. Surtees Young Tom Hall 7: 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.
[Aus]W.H. Downing Digger Dialects 11: bite (n. or vb.) — (1) A borrowing, to borrow; (2) an attempt to borrow.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. of Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: bite.(1) A borrowing, to borrow. (2) An attempt to borrow.
[US]W. Winchell 22 Feb. [synd. col.] The idea of publicity is to build the public up for a sale. Maybe partnership in a war. Maybe a bite for a few million francs.
[US]A.J. Liebling Honest Rainmaker (1991) 30: [He was] styled Mike the Bite because he was such an easy fellow to promote for a loan.
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 231: It was all a big standover. There were farmers being stood over by banks, butchers bullied by carcase butchers, bakers driven to suicide by flour millers; all one big bite.

(f) (Aus.) an act of begging.

[Aus](con. 1930s) F. Huelin ‘Keep Moving’ 7: I approached the shabby hotel slowly. this was my first ‘bite’, my initiation into a role which had to be played.

(g) (N.Z.) a miserly authority figure.

[UK]N. Scanlan Tides of Youth 233: He’s a bit of a bite.

(h) (US) the price, the cost, a bill, esp. when the item is expensive.

[US]J. Archibald ‘When a Body Meets a Body’ in Popular Detective Sept. [Internet] They flang out both my gentlemen friends and you don’t think I’m going to get stuck with the whole bite, Buster?
[UK]I, Mobster 58: I had the money – I could have had myself one of those fancy places up on Seventh Avenue without even feeling the bite.
[US]M. Braly Shake Him Till He Rattles (1964) 119: Even though the bite at the door had gone up to two dollars, the place filled up early.
[US]A. James America’s Homosexual Underground 85: Five to ten dollars is the usual bite just to enter the drab establishments.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 87: The bite is two for fifty slats.
[US] in P.R. Runkel Law Unto Themselves 258: The bite for this was fifteen bucks.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 50: Who’s selling the Hog? And what’s the bite?

(i) a bribe.

[US]P. Hamill Dirty Laundry 106: There was always la mordida, the true governor of Mexico, the bite, the bribe.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 235: It can all be fixed with a bribe. La mordida they call it. The death bite.

2. in context of cheating.

(a) a cheat, a confidence trickster.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: bite c. a Rogue, Sharper or Cheat.
[UK]Cibber Double Gallant I i: saun.: I never mind Accounts; I don’t understand ’em. sir sol.: Pray, Sir, what is’t you do understand? saun.: Bite, Bam, and the best of the Lay, old Boy.
[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 25 June 1: [dramatis personae] Hazard, a Gamester, Bite, a Sharper.
[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey 9 July 7/1: One of the Officers of the Court deposed, That she was the oldest Bite and oldest Whore we have, that she had ruin’d several that he knew.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) 202: Bite, a rogue, sharper or cheat; also a woman’s privities.
[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey Dec. 6/1: He thought the Prisoner was as great a Thief, a Bite, and a Cheat, as any in England.
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 130: Your Wife’s a Bite, Sir.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Fielding Miss Lucy in Works (1766) 277: Is this wench an idiot, or a bite? Marry me, with a pox!
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Bon Ton Mag. Mar. 7/2: Ah, you Irish bite, I have got six and threepence by you now!
[UK] ‘The British Spy’ in Coll. of English Ballads 86: I sat down and began to write / These verses to show the world’s all a bite, / Honesty’s all out of fashion.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]W. Scott Peveril of the Peak IV 64: The architect’s a bite, and the plan’s a bubble.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK] in G.D. Atkin House Scraps 118: A most terrible knave and a bite, / Who cheated his mother, / His sister, and brother.

(b) a hoax, a confidence trick, a fraud.

[UK]N. Ward Hudibras Redivivus II:5 18: A Bite more knavish than the Oak, / That has so many Hundreds broke.
[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 197: Whereupon his lordship supposing he was not in a capacity of paying 500 pounds in case he had lost, cry’d out, A bite, a bite.
[UK]Defoe Roxana (1982) 183: Thus his Project of coming to-Bed to me, was a Bite upon himself, while he intended it for a Bite upon me.
[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: bite [...] Of all the Bites we have heard of in Modern Times, that of a late Criminal, Holloway; I think it was, deserves to be remembered, for what is related of his harden’d Boldness and Villainy, even the very last Article of his Life.
[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey 24 Apr. 104/2: He soon returned, and said it was no Bite, for he had met his Chap, who had shewn him the Top of the Tweezer-case, and chinked the rest of the Things in his Pocket.
[UK]Smollett (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas I 11: I was as much affected with this bite as I have since been with misfortunes of far greater consequence.
[UK]Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 369: A damn’d bite, by G-d!
[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.
[US]H.H. Brackenridge Modern Chivalry (1937) Pt I Vol. I Bk I 6: The jockeys were of the opinion [...] that the horse was what they call a bite, and that under the appearance of leanness and stiffness, was concealed some hidden quality of swiftness.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Oct. III 43/2: Moses [...] complaining bitterly of what he calls a Christian bite.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) I 236: He boasted, but it prov’d a bite.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]A Merry Song Called Love in a Barn 6: Mark how this fair maid she did lay / a crafty country bite.
[UK]W. Scott Rob Roy (1883) 136: It’s all a bam, ma’am – all a bamboozle and a bite.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London 552: ‘What have we here?—somebody has dropped a prize.’ ‘It is mine, Sir,’ said an old woman [...] ‘A bite,’ said Tom. ‘I dropp’d it from my pocket, Sir, just now.’.
[UK]W.H. Smith ‘The Thieves’s Chaunt’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 120: But I never in liquors took delight, / For liquors I think is all a bite.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour 149: It was not often that Jack got a 'bite' at my lord, which, perhaps, made him think it the more incumbent on him not to miss an opportunity.
[UK]Sat. Rev. (London) 14 Apr. 475/2: That form of practical joking, which in the time of ‘The Spectator,’ was known as a bite [...] in the popular slang of the day, is designated ‘a sell’ [F&H].
[UK]Daily News 18 Apr. 5/4: Lord Randolph Churchill, we fear, has been making Mr. Gladstone the victim of what, in the slang of Addison’s time, would have been called a bite, and what in the slang of our own time is called a ‘sell’ [F&H].
[UK]C.G. Gordon Crooks of the Und. 124: He, I think, was the greatest exponent of the art of ‘tap’ and ‘bite’. [Ibid.] 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.

3. (US) an unpleasant surprise or experience, abbr. of bite in the ass.

[US]Hepster’s Dict. 1: Ain’t that a bite – Too bad.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 3: a real bite – something bad.

In compounds

In phrases

put the bite on (v.) (also put the bite to, put the bite into)

1. to cheat.

[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 26 Feb. 6/2: When he was gone out she heard some of them say, we have put the Bite upon the Mort [i.e. by passing a counterfeit coin].

2. (orig. Aus.) to extort, to blackmail, to force someone to do something they would rather avoid.

[US]R. Sale ‘A Nose for News’ in Goulart (1967) 214: I just put the bite on Rigo [...] he opened up and squealed beautifully.
[US]J. Evans Halo in Blood (1988) 136: My personal belief is that he was putting the bite on Sandmark.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 242: You’ve got the nerve to put the bite on me for absolution.
[US]K. Kolb Getting Straight 128: Nothing to do but hope for the best right now and get busy putting the bite on some other modeling school.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 167: They git the slightest notion I’ve come into big money they’re gonna put the bite on me somethin’ cruel.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 99: If some you out there are worried about us puttin’ the bite to you.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 87: I had put the bite on one of the stable lads.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 138: I [...] tell him to put the bite into that cunt Toal.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Jungletown Jihad’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 366: I ain’t put the bite on her yet.

3. to solicit a loan or request the repayment of a debt.

New Yorker Scrapbook 69: You can't put the bite on me. [...] I’m cleaned [...] I dropped eleven ‘G’ last night.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Little Miss Marker’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 293: He once tries to put the bite on Sorrowful for a sawbuck.
[US]H.A. Smith Life in a Putty Knife Factory (1948) 112: He put the bite on me for two dollars.
[US]J. Thompson Savage Night (1991) 27: I’d put the bite on a big flash-looking guy for coffee money.
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 31: I’d pop down [...] with a view to putting the bite on for some reddy.
[UK]G.F. Newman You Flash Bastard 38: ‘How you for money, Ernie ?’ The man hesitated, he rarely had the front to put the bite on directly.
[Aus](con. 1941) R. Beilby Gunner 237: ‘How’re you holding?’ [...] ‘I’m putting the bite on you,’ Gunner explained gently. ‘Puttin the nips in, touching you for a loan.’.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 7: Shane and his friend Macka are going to the disco. [...] Shane is Stone Motherless but has put the bite on his old man for ten bucks.
[Aus]P. Doyle (con. late 1950s) Amaze Your Friends (2019) 28: [H]e put the bite on me for five quid.
[US]J. Ridley Love Is a Racket 31: Why you always got to put the bite on me, Amber?
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 85: He’s obviously down on his chips and needs more but can’t put the bite on us just like that in company.

4. (US) to beg.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 169/1: Put the bite on. [...] 2. To beg or borrow from; to solicit a favor or concession from.
[Aus]D. O’Grady A Bottle of Sandwiches 28: A man feels a galah fronting a new boss and putting the bite on him for the price of a gallon of juice.
[US]J. Sayles Union Dues (1978) 286: Norman considered putting the bite on but was warned by something about the way the guy was looking at him [...] Another creepy-drawers, probably. Another old fag.

5. (US) to put the blame on.

T.R. Fehrenback This Kind of War 570: His own subordinates that he’s known [...] get killed or wounded, and someone thousands of miles back puts the bite on him, as though he were callous about it!