Chomping at the bit (also known as champing at the bit) is an idiomatic expression which refers to somebody who is waiting impatiently.
This term is normally said about someone who is keen on taking initiative, or who is waiting eagerly for an activity to begin.
These symptoms are usually accompanied with visible jumpiness and a general “ready-to-go” appeal.
Although champing at the bit is the original version, both forms are acceptable in informal discourse.
The term originates from horse racing. It refers to the phenomenon of the horses’ agitated behavior before the start of a race.
The animals often bite at their mouthpiece when nervous.
“The bit” is the piece of metal which goes into the horse’s mouth, and “champing” is a verb referring to the action of a horse chewing.
Chomping at the bit was created by uniting these two words into one metaphor.
It is currently not confirmed who came up with the idiom.
A very early record of it being used in print dates back to 1810, when a poet named Charles Lucas used it in one of his verses.
The expression supposedly started to spread following the success of the poem.
- Merriam-webster.com – champing at the bit
- Grammarist.com – Champing At The Bit Vs Chomping At The Bit & Meaning
- Collinsdictionary.com – Definition of ’champ at the bit to chomp at the bit’
- Idioms.thefreedictionary.com – Be chomping at the bit – Idioms by The Free Dictionary