'Bite the Bullet'

In most likelihood, it is Rudyard Kipling who first used this phrase ‘Bite the Bullet’ in his novel ‘The Light That Failed’. The novel was published in 1891, and there may have been numerous references to this phrase even earlier. I was most likely used to refer to the fact that soldiers and other injured persons had to endure surgery without the aid of any anesthetic. To get through the painful procedure, they bit on a bullet between their teeth. This explanation seems a little implausible and it is more likely that they bit on leather through the painful procedure. Whatever object they did bite on, the phrase has endured to this day and the idiom has come to mean that one has to necessarily bear a painful and undesirable situation that is inevitable.

Philosophically what it means is that one has to accept the consequences of one’s action, however unpleasant these consequences maybe. Sometimes it also refers to the need to face up to something that you have been putting off for a long time, but have been promising yourself or others that you will get to it someday. You may have to then one day just get down to doing it and bite the bullet. In a sense, it may mean having to face up to your phobias or overcoming your demons. In general it may be something as simple as a visit to the dentist or getting your papers in order and cleaning out your garden. If you have been postponing it interminably, you may have to one day simply bite the bullet.

It can also be extended to mean having to prove up to tall claims that you have made possibly without basis. It may then be necessary to prove those claims by biting the bullet. For example, if you have been stating with a great deal of bravado that you can run a mile in less than an hour, you may one day be called upon to prove your claim and then you will just have to bite the bullet or fall to the dust.

If you wish to stand up for something just because it is right, that may also be biting the bullet. You may stand up for it, even though it sucks simply because it is the right thing to do. For instance, you may choose to stay at home rather than sneak to the movies, simply because you have not been able to inform your parents about the trip to the movies. It sucks but is seems to you the right thing to do and you are therefore prepared to bit the bullet. If you do not have the money to pay the rent, you may be willing to bite the bullet and sell your expensive camera as you do not want to default with rental payments. Biting the bullet is not always the easy thing to do, but it is the right thing to do and builds a person of moral fiber.

Atreyee Roy (have 690 posts in total)

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