Make Your Editor Cry: Chomping at the bit vs Champing at the bit

Make Your Editor Cry: Chomping at the bit vs Champing at the bit

The noun “bit” is the part of the rein, usually made of metal, that is actually inside the mouth of the horse. The intransitive verb “champ” is to show impatience at delay or restraint or to make biting or gnashing movements.

Similarly, the intransitive verb “chomp” is to chew or bite on something.

Technically, both can be interpreted as correct. However, chomping implies that one can bite through the thing being chewed on. Champing implies that one can chew all day with only frustration as the reward. Thus, the original older phrase “champing at the bit” is more the accurate, more refined—and thus more correct—phraseology.

The correct expression is “champing at the bit.”

Example:

We've all been champing at the bit to get started on the project.

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