Gainey Conference Center grounds, June 28, 2005. Horses

Jargon Genesis: Champing at the Bit

Dr. Michael Porter recently informed us that “chomping at the bit” is, in fact, incorrect when referring to being impatient or anxious. Admittedly, this was news to me! So, armed with my newfound intelligence, thank you Dr. Porter, I would like to discuss the true definition of “champing at the bit.”

First, I’ll provide a sample usage of this phrase. “I am champing at the bit to get my hands on the new marketing budget so I can build my tactical plan for FY 2011.”

Let’s first learn about champing. I thought this website had the most interesting definition.

CHAMPING: Repetitious, strong opening and closing action of the mouth which produces sounds when the teeth hit together. Champing in swine may be a threat signal, but also is performed by boars during courtship and mating. Definition from Hurnik et al., 1995.

Yikes! Threats and mating? I may reconsider when/if I use this phrase in the future.

The bit, of course, is the metal “thing” put into an animal’s mouth so they can be guided. The idea behind today’s phrase is that animals champ at the bit when they’re anxious to go. Use this phrase wisely, with proper pronunciation and increased understanding.