Bite the bullet

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To "bite the bullet" is to endure a painful or otherwise unpleasant situation that is seen as unavoidable.[1] The phrase was first recorded by Rudyard Kipling in his 1891 novel The Light that Failed.[1] It has been suggested that it is derived historically from the practice of having a patient clench a bullet in their teeth as a way to cope with the pain of a surgical procedure without anesthetic, though evidence for biting a bullet rather than a leather strap during surgery is sparse.[1] It has been speculated to have evolved from the British expression "to bite the cartridge", which dates to the Indian Rebellion of 1857, but the phrase "chew a bullet", with a similar meaning, dates to at least 1796.[1]

The phrase was used in a literal sense in the 1975 film Bite the Bullet. One of the characters has a broken, aching tooth and cannot get treatment. He uses a shell casing to cover the exposed nerve; the slug is removed from the bullet, the cap was hit to expend that charge, and the casing was cut down to allow it to sit level with his other teeth.[citation needed]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Bite the bullet. Phrases.org.uk. Retrieved on 2019-03-20.