What Does to Bite the Big One Mean?

Bite the Big One Meaning

Definition: To die.

This idiom is used to refer to dying without actually saying the word die or death.

It is a very informal way to talk about the end of someone’s life, and, given its informal nature, it is commonly used in a jocular fashion or is used to talk about someone you may not have liked.


Origin of to Bite the Big One

it's the big oneThe origins of this phrase are unclear, but one possibility is that it comes from the phrase bite the bullet, where biting a bullet offers a chance of survival but biting the big one, whatever that might be, means almost certain death.

At the very least, it can be surmised that biting implies experiencing something forcefully or going through with something, and big one can easily mean the biggest event in one’s life (death).

Therefore, biting the big one means going through with death. There is no documentation of its early use, however.

Examples of to Bite the Big One

In the modern day, this idiom is more commonly used to talk about the future than saying someone has already bit the big one.

For example, you can say,

  • I’m not ready to bite they big one yet; there’s a lot more I want to do.


  • He doesn’t know how he’ll bite the big one, but he hopes it’ll be doing something exciting.

It is less common to hear, “My aunt bit the big one yesterday,” as that would be considered extremely vulgar.

More Examples

what does the saying bite the big one meanThis is a very colloquial phrase that is most often used verbally, or in informal writing. Given that, you won’t see it much in authoritative, edited prose.

Here are two examples from more informal publications.

  • Grooveshark bites the big one [and no longer exists]. –Computerworld
  • But then again, if fans are already assuming that Captain America is going to bite the big one in one of the two upcoming Avengers sequels, then Feige really has no need to confirm one of the other characters taking his job. –Film: Blogging the Reel World


When someone bites the big one, they have completed the final act of their life, which was death.