English Idiom – Bite your tongue.

Meaning – To stop yourself from saying something that might be rude or hurtful. This expression used to convey the idea of restraining oneself from speaking, especially in situations where saying something might be impolite, offensive, or hurtful to someone else. Imagine that you have a strong urge to say something critical or unkind, but instead of uttering those words, you bite your tongue as if to physically stop yourself from speaking.

It’s important to note that bite your tongue doesn’t involve actual biting; it’s a metaphorical way of highlighting self-restraint in speech. You might use this idiom when you want to emphasise that it’s better to remain silent rather than say something that could upset or offend someone. For example, if someone asks for your opinion on their new haircut, and you think it looks unflattering, you might bite your tongue to avoid saying something negative and simply respond with a polite compliment. When you find yourself in a situation where speaking your mind might be unkind or impolite, you can use this idiom to convey the idea of holding back your words and maintaining a more considerate and diplomatic approach in your communication.

More Idioms With Tongues:

  • Cat got your tongue –  This expression is said to someone who has nothing to say. If you are annoyed with someone because they are not speaking you might ask them “Has the cat got your tongue?
  • Forked tongue – This idiom suggests that someone is insincere or dishonest in their speech. It’s often used to describe a person who says one thing but means another.
  • Loose tongue – Refers to a person who talks too much or divulges secrets or sensitive information without restraint.
  • On the tip of your tongue – When something is “on the tip of your tongue,” it means you know the word or information but can’t quite recall it at the moment. It’s a common expression when you’re struggling to remember something.
  • Silver tongue – Someone with a “silver tongue” has a smooth and persuasive way of speaking. It’s often used to compliment someone’s ability to convince or charm others with their words.
  • Slip of the tongue – This refers to an unintentional or accidental mistake in speech, such as saying something you didn’t mean to say.


When could you use this idiom?

  • If you’re asked about a previous employer or colleague you didn’t get along with, you might “bite your tongue” to avoid speaking negatively about them.
  • When a family member shares a controversial opinion that you strongly disagree with, you may choose to “bite your tongue” to maintain harmony and avoid conflict.
  • When you’re arguing with a loved one and feel the urge to say something hurtful, but you decide to “bite your tongue” to prevent making the situation worse.


  • “Your teacher’s mistake might make you want to correct them, but sometimes it’s better to bite your tongue and let it slide.”

In The News:

‘I really have to bite my tongue‘ – Youri Tielemans responds to claims he has fallen out with Aston Villa boss Unai Emery as he insists he is up for the ‘challenge’ of earning starting place

What is an idiom?

An idiom is a word or phrase that is not taken literally.  An idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its individual words, but has a separate meaning of its own.

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