Chomping at the Bit – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you ‘chomping at the bit’ for the release of the new season of ‘Rick ‘n Morty’? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The expression ‘chomping at the bit’ means you’re feeling restless and impatient due to an unexpected delay. It can also refer to showing restraint while feeling impatient and restless. Horses wear bridles and ‘champ’ at the bit in their mouth when they want to start moving.

The ‘chomp’ variation of the saying is uniquely American. The modern use of the phrase has nothing to do with restless horses. ‘Chomping at the bit’ can also refer to someone eager to progress their progress in life and has an ambitious attitude.

Example Usage

“He’s been chomping at the bit all season. The coach needs to give him the shot he deserves and put him in the starting lineup for the game this Saturday.’

“I like the new guy in the office. You can see he’s chomping at the bit and full of ambition. These are the kind of employees we need working at our firm.”

“I’ve been chomping at the bit for this for weeks. The new Star Wars movie comes out this weekend, and I can’t wait to see it.”

“We’re all chomping at the bit over here. We need more customers to practice our pitch and achieve our sales targets.”

“I’m just over here, chomping at the bit. I’ll keep pushing, and eventually, someone will notice my efforts and give me the reward I deserve.”

“There’s no use chomping at the bit when you don’t have any prospects. You need to get on your purpose and start doing something with your life.”

“I’m chomping at the bit for the green light. I can’t wait to put the pedal to the floor and take this beast to its top speed.”

Origin

The expression ‘chomping at the bit’ is the Americanized version of the original ‘champing at the bit.’ The original phrase comes from the action of a horse chomping at its bridle. The term’s first appearance is in a religious poem written by Reverend Charles Lucas. The poem, ‘Joseph,’ published in 1810, has the saying as follows.

“Twelve beauteous steeds, of golden color and with golden manes, champ at the bit.”

The saying crossed the pond from England to America in the early 1900s. However, Americans changed ‘champ’ to ‘chomp,’ creating the alternate version of the expression.

The first appearance of ‘chomping at the bit’ was in a recruitment advert published in The Decatur Daily Review in April 1920.

“When the horses are chomping at the bit and the ‘yellow legs’ mount up, and the troop rides forth, there is a thrill that no old cavalryman can ever forget.”

Phrases Similar to Chomping at the Bit

  • Ready to rock.
  • Waiting for the bell.
  • Frothing for it.

Phrases Opposite to Chomping at the Bit

  • Relaxed and unconcerned.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Chomping at the bit.
  • Champing at the bit.

Ways People May Say Chomping at the Bit Incorrectly

Some people may use the English variation of the saying, ‘champing’ at the bit. However, in American English, the correct version is ‘chomping’ at the bit. You’ll only use the ‘champing’ version when addressing audiences in UK English formats. The phrase doesn’t refer to horses or bridles in its modern context.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Chomping at the Bit

You can use the expression ‘chomping at the bit’ to describe your sense of restlessness and impatience. The phrase suits professional and social use. For instance, you could use it at work to express your feelings of impatience while waiting for the next customer to call. Or you could use it with friends to describe your emotions around waiting for the Superbowl game on the weekend.

The expression ‘chomping at the bit’ suits verbal exchanges and text messages. Typically, you’ll use the phrase to describe nervous anticipation and ambition. If you’re ‘chomping at the bit,’ it means you’re ready to go and can’t wait.

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