Contemporary slang bites the big one

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun May 14 01:41:49 UTC 2006

>On 5/13/06, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
>>Then I thought, "Hold the phone! Let's see what HDAS says." Well, HDAS's
>>earliest cite is from only 1977, giving plenty of time for various
>>shifts from the
>>military meaning. But, even that cite pretty much still coincides with the
>>military meaning. Nevertheless, even HDAS has only a single example of
>>this phrase used in the past and, even there, it has the meaning of "died,"
>>with a date of 1988.
>There's also a cite from 1985 (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, "You
>don't suppose he bit the big one, do you?"). "Bite the big one" =
>'die' is completely unremarkable slang for me (grew up in NJ, 70s-80s)
>-- in fact, when I first saw the subject line, I wondered, "Why does
>Wilson think contemporary slang is dead?"
204 raw google hits for "bit the big one".  Looking at the first
couple of pages, they seem OK to me, and instances of the
construction in question.    (As opposed to, say, "I took out two
differently sized apples from the fridge, and I bit the big one.")


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