Learn the English Idiom “bite the bullet” and how to use it, and the American English pronunciation. When you feel comfortable with the definition, you’ll have to bite the bullet and use it yourself in conversation!
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over the idiom “bite the bullet”.
Sorry, but you’ll just have to bite the bullet. What does that mean? It comes from stories of long ago when a wounded soldier was told to bite a bullet before undergoing surgery without anesthesia to deal with the pain. This may or may not be true – but the idiom has lasted. We use it when we have to deal with a painful or unpleasant situation. I might say, I’m down to my last sock, I guess I’ll have to bite the bullet and do the laundry. Or if all the flights are sold out for the holidays, you might have to bite the bullet and drive to visit family.
Let’s study the pronunciation of “bite the bullet”. First, look at the rhythmic pattern. Which are the content words? Content words are nouns verbs, adjectives and adverbs. In this sentence fragment, that would be BITE and BULLET, so our stressed syllables are the first and third: Bite the bullet. BITE the BULL-et. These stressed syllables will be longer and will have the shape of a stressed syllable: Up, down. Bite– Bull– The unstressed syllables will be shorter, flatter, and lower in pitch, ‘the’, ‘-let’. Bite the bullet. DA-da-DA-da. Bite the bullet.
We start with the B consonant sound. The lips are together and then release. The jaw drops down for the AI diphthong, Bi- Bi-. Remember this is stressed, so let it fall off in pitch to give it the right shape. Bi-. For the ending position of the diphthong, the tongue arches up towards the roof of the mouth, so the jaw comes up, bi-, bi-. Bite. Now we have a Stop T: stop the airflow abruptly for the Stop T and bring the tongue into position, with the front, flat part against the roof of the mouth. Bite, bite, bite the. You should then release the Stop T into the TH.
Because this is a voiced TH beginning a very common and unstressed word, ‘the’, you don’t need to bring the tongue tip all the way through the teeth. Instead, you can press the tip against the back of the teeth, where the teeth come together. The, the, the, bite the–, bite the– Release the tongue down from the teeth for the schwa: The, the, the, bite the– Remember, since it’s unstressed, it should be flat and quick, the, the, the. Bite the.
Then the lips come back together for another B sound, which release into the UH as in PUSH vowel, bul-, bul-. Remember again the shape of the voice, up-down: Bul– That’s really important. Bite the bul-. The Dark L comes next, so the back part of the tongue will stretch back a little bit to make the dark sound, uuh, uhhl, uhl, and the front of the tongue will reach up to the roof of the mouth to finish the Dark L. Bul-. Then the tongue will drop down into an unstressed IH as in SIT vowel very quickly before going back up for another Stop T. Bull-et. Bullet. Again, abruptly stop the air for the Stop T. Bullet. Bite the bullet. DA-da-DA-da. Bite the bullet.
Practice your English. Make up a sentence with this idiom and post it in the comments below below.
I’m happy to tell you my book American English Pronunciation is available for purchase. If you want an organized, step-by-step resource to build your American accent, click here to get the book, or see the description below. I think you’re going to love it.
I love making these videos, but it’s time to finish this one, so I’ll have to bite the bullet and say:
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.