“Bite the Bullet.”

My cousin Leah always uses this phrase whenever she, or anyone else, has to face doing something they don’t really want to do or are scared to do.  She says she heard it a lot when she was little because her grandfather would say it to her father when she overheard their conversations about any duties he had or things he didn’t feel like doing.

It is apparent that the proverb “Bite the Bullet” seems to come from (or from what I remember of my days learning about it in elementary school) hundreds of years ago when during the Revolutionary Way doctors used to give amputation patients bullets to bite on in order to endure the pain of the amputation procedure.  Instead of screaming and yelling, the patients would have something hard to bite down on in order to avoid thinking about the pain of losing a limb, and a bullet seemed to do the job.

After hearing her grandfather use this phrase, Leah started using it often, as well.  I’ve heard her use it many times when referring to school work, jobs, breakups, etc.  She says that it gives her more confidence when approaching a difficult situation.  If she is seriously dreading something, when she thinks of the phrase, it reminds her that soon it will be over, and if she just sucks it up she can get it done and over with.

She also uses this phrase with other family and friends to try to remind them of the same things.  Though some people don’t take it as seriously because they think its easier to be told to just “Bite the Bullet” than actually do what is feared, it sometimes works.  It especially works with me because I tend to realize the same thing that she does, and I am more motivated to simply get the job done.

I think this is a popular phrase among many people because it is short and to the point.  “Bite the Bullet” is a strong phrase which gets the point across without having to be interpreted.  It is also easily accessible to many, no matter what their education, because it is so straightforward and easy to understand.  Even if one doesn’t get the historical background to the phrase, it still gives the same, direct, effect and encourages the individual to just get the job done.

Annotation: Jack, Albert. Red Herrings and White Elephants: The Origins of Phrases we Use Everyday. “Bite the Bullet” Harper Collins Publishers, 2005. Page 22.