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a possible explanation for "bite the bullet"

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 03, 2010 at 07:07

In Reply to: a possible explanation for "bite the bullet" posted by David FG on April 02, 2010 at 11:25:

: : I have an explanation of the expression "bite the bullet", in connection to "bite the bullet end of the cartridge":

: : Consider the process of reloading a muzzle-loaded rifle in the times when cartridges were in use:
: : 1. Take the new cartridge into your hand so that the bullet end is up.
: : 2. Bite the bullet end to tear the cartridge open and take the bullet into your mouth.
: : 3. Pour the powder into the muzzle.
: : 4. Spit the bullet into the muzzle.
: : 5. Put the cartridge envelop into the muzzle as a wad.
: : 6. Push everything down.

: : I believe those cartridges were used mostly in the military, and the process was associated primarily with being in a battlefield and preparing for action.

: But is that really consistent with the meaning of the phrase, which is to bravely accept the difficulties of a situation?


There's a good deal of discussion about "bite the bullet" in our Archive. At the tope of the previous page type in "bite the bullet," or click on:

The phrase apparently referred to the practice of asking wounded soldiers to bite on a bullet when undergoing surgery, since anesthetic was still unavailable, and bullets were soft enough to bite on without breaking teeth.