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Bite the bullet

Created date

May 3rd, 2010

In the days before anesthesia, battlefield surgeons would often provide their patients with something on which to bite as a meager way of coping with the excruciating pain. This implement may have been a leather strap or a wooden stick. In other cases, witnesses reported the use of bullets, particularly because of lead's soft composition, which wouldn't break the patient's teeth when he bit into one. No one knows for sure whether surgeons actually used bullets. The phrase may always have been figurative. Regardless, the saying persists today as a reference to the act of enduring painful or unpleasant circumstances. "I really didn't want to pay for new brakes, but safety is so important that I had to bite the bullet and buy them anyway."