Have You Ever Had to ‘Bite the Bullet’?

People have been using guns for hundreds of years, possibly even 1,000. But not all expressions about guns are about fighting — they can also be about making mistakes, trying things that are difficult, and making hard decisions.

When you “jump the gun,” you have done something too quickly, and without carefully thinking about it. This expression comes from the guns used to start races. In a race, someone who starts running before the gun is fired is said to have “jumped the gun.”

If you were planning to go on a vacation with your friend, but they saw a good deal and booked flights and rooms without asking you first, you might say: “Ah, you shouldn’t have jumped the gun — I don’t know if I can take those days off work!”

If we describe something as “a long shot,” then it is very unlikely to happen or work — but it would be really great if it did. This phrase comes from how difficult it is to shoot something very far away.

So you might say, “I’ll talk to my boss and see if I can take that week off, but it’s a long shot.”

We say “bite the bullet” when we do something that we really don’t want to do, but need to do. This phrase may come from doctors more than 100 years ago telling soldiers to bite a bullet if they didn’t have painkillers during surgery.

If your boss said you couldn’t take the week off, you might tell your friend, “I’m really sorry, but I think we’re going to have to bite the bullet and cancel the reservation. I hope you can get a refund.”

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