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I had to bite my teeth

This common malaphor (check the hits on google!) is used when someone is wanting to say “I had to bite my tongue” (struggling to not say something you really want to say). My guess is that the speaker is also thinking of “I showed my teeth” (displaying anger) or possibly “sink your teeth into” (become deeply involved).  The latter is probably more likely as the words bite and sink are four letter words and are active verbs.  Also, the tongue and teeth are near each other and so this adds to the confusion.  Finally, teeth bite and tongues don’t so the mind might be trying to correct itself?

Teeth of a model.

Teeth of a model. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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5 Comments on “I had to bite my teeth”

  1. Your ol' pal says:

    How about “got the bit between my teeth” meaning “take control of a situation”? I’ve seen it used to mean “grabbing onto an idea or plan & not letting go.”

  2. anon says:

    It’s also possible that this individual was a Chinese speaker. The Chinese idiom for dealing with an unpleasant situation translates directly into “bite your teeth” (which, technically, evokes the English phrase of gritting your teeth).

    • davemalaphor says:

      Excellent observation. I have noticed that a few of my malaphors are actually accepted idioms in other languages. Perhaps I will start that as a category. Would be fun and interesting.
      Dave

    • davemalaphor says:

      Yes, it seems what is a malaphor in English might be an accepted phrase in another country. An example is Cream of the cake, which is actually said in England, a friend of mine told me.


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