Idioms: Bite Your Tongue



Artwork by Miz Katie. See her work here.

Bite Your Tongue: Keep yourself from saying something regretful; Take back an offensive statement.

When Clara exclaimed that she wouldn’t eat her dinner, her mother told her to bite her tongue. 

This phrase is frequently used as a reprimand, asking the offender to take back something they said or to keep quiet on a certain impolite or improper subject. It also suggests desperation, as in the one who needs to keep quiet just barely does so. The exact origin of the phrase is unknown, but it dates back to 1590, suggesting Shakespeare. Shakespeare popularized the term in his play Henry VI: “1593 — 2 Hen. VI, I. i. 230 So Yorke must sit, and fret, and bite his tongue.” Sourced from English Language and Usage.


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