This clever congruent conflation is a blend of “tough nut to crack” and “bitter pill to swallow”, both referring to hard things to do. Both also contain four words, and both involve actions. And of course a tough nut is always hard to swallow,
right? A big shout out to Susan E for sending me this one that she heard her husband utter last week.
This is a mix up of “bite the bullet” and “bitter pill to swallow”, both having similar meanings – reluctantly accepting something unpleasant. “My ol’ pal” correctly told me not to forget “swallow your pride”, which also refers to doing something you would rather not do and so is probably on the speaker’s mind as well. As we approach the fiscal cliff, I think some folks need to swallow the bullet and make those hard choices they were elected to do.