Bite Your Tongue – Idiom, Origin & Examples

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Let’s be honest. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve wanted to say something but knew it would be wiser to hold our peace. In English, there’s a perfect phrase for this—bite your tongue. And before you ask, it’s metaphorical, not literal! (Ouch!) Let’s navigate the nuances of this idiom.

Bite Your Tongue Meaning Explained

Bite Your Tongue Idiom Origin Examples

No, this phrase doesn’t mean you should take a bite out of your own tongue (ouch again!). When someone says bite your tongue, they mean you should remain silent and avoid saying something that might be inappropriate or hurtful. In other words, sometimes it’s better to bite your tongue (literally) than let a biting remark slip out!

Different Tenses to Use

Just like other phrases, bite your tongue can be modified to suit different tenses. Here’s how it goes:

  • Present: Bite your tongue (You should bite your tongue next time.)
  • Present continuous: Biting your tongue (You are biting your tongue too often.)
  • Past: Bit your tongue (You bit your tongue at the right moment.)

Origin and Etymology of Bite Your Tongue

The exact origin of bite your tongue isn’t exactly clear, but it likely sprang from the idea that physically biting one’s tongue can prevent speech. Over time, it evolved into a metaphorical idiom used to advise someone to keep quiet. So, no need for actual tongue-biting, folks!

Bite Your Tongue Synonyms

Check out these synonyms that carry similar meanings. They can help you break up any repetitiveness in your writing and conversations.

  • Hold your tongue
  • Keep quiet
  • Zip your lips
  • Shut your mouth
  • Remain silent

Bite Your Tongue Expression Examples in a Sentence

Bite Your Tongue Idiom Origin Examples 1

Here are some examples that demonstrate the usage of bite your tongue in the context of a full sentence.

  • I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from revealing the surprise before my sister’s birthday.
  • John bit his tongue during the meeting to avoid arguing with his boss over the ridiculous new workplace rules.
  • She has a habit of biting her tongue when angry but explodes later when you’re not expecting it.
  • It’s hard to bite your tongue when you hear such nonsense online.
  • I wish I had bit my tongue instead of saying something that hurt the feeling of my best friend.
  • You should be thankful he’s just biting his tongue so he doesn’t say something he’ll regret.
  • Trust me, it would be best if you bit your tongue in these types of situations.
  • I bit my tongue to keep from laughing at his ridiculous statement.

When in Doubt, Bite Your Tongue!

Well, that’s the phrase bite your tongue in all its glory! Isn’t it fascinating how language can be so symbolic? Stay tuned to for more intriguing word facts and linguistic explorations. And remember, the next time you’re tempted to make a sharp retort, it might be better to just bite your tongue!

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