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Bite your tongue

Posted by Vicotria S Dennis on September 24, 2007

In Reply to: Bite your tongue posted by Dan-o on September 24, 2007

: I hear all the time the phrase "Bite your tongue," meaning to hush your mouth. I'm thinking that that is a mutation of the original phrase, "Bide your tongue," meaning hold back your tongue, lest you say something you will regret.

: What is the correct phrase and where did it come from?

You bite your tongue to hold it still and stop it saying something you may regret; it's an obvious figure of speech. "Bide your tongue" doesn't sound remotely likely to me, because "bide" is not a transitive verb and has never meant "hold [something] back"; it is an intransitive verb meaning "wait, stay, remain, endure". (VSD)

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