Let’s sink our teeth into another expression. Ever heard someone say they’ve bitten off more than they can chew and wondered if they need the Heimlich maneuver? Fear not! They’re not choking on a piece of steak; they’re merely using an idiom.
The Meaning Behind Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
When someone says they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, they’re not talking about an actual mouthful of food. The phrase means that they’ve taken on a task or responsibility that’s too big or difficult for them to handle. No steak knives or dental work is involved, I promise!
Origin and Etymology of Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Like many idioms, the phrase bite off more than you can chew comes from everyday life. In this case, the expression derives from the act of eating. It first emerged in 19th-century America when chewing tobacco was popular. People would say someone had bitten off more than they could chew if they took a chunk of tobacco that was too big to handle comfortably. Plus, it would make them sick.
I spent years living in southern Alberta among actual cowboys; I even married into it. So, I understand the idea behind this phrase as it relates to chewing tobacco. I’ve watched people take too much and spend the rest of the day ill.
Synonyms for Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
There are simpler ways to convey the idea behind this saying. Try any of these words or phrases instead of bite off more than you can chew.
- Take on too much
- Overestimate one’s abilities
- Overload oneself
- Overdo it
Using Bite Off More Than You Can Chew in a Sentence
- The boss bit off more than he could chew by taking on three major projects at once.
- With her multiple volunteer commitments, she’s bitten off more than she can chew.
- The team bit off more than it could chew by promising delivery in just one week.
- It’s too easy to bite off more than you can chew when you’re starting a new business.
- He’s bitten off more than he can chew with his ambitious New Year’s resolutions.
- I think we bit off more than we could chew when we decided to host the family reunion.
- She bit off more than she could chew when she volunteered to make costumes for the entire play.
- I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this home renovation project.
- The government has bitten off more than it can chew with this new policy initiative.
- Trying to juggle full-time work with studying part-time, he had bitten off more than he could chew.
So, there you have it, a tasty morsel of the English language for you to chew on. Remember, taking small bites is okay; no one is awarding points for gobbling up responsibilities! Stick around and check out more of my idiom breakdowns like this on our site!