bite your tongue


  1. either of the two fleshy parts or folds forming the margins of the mouth and functioning in speech.
  2. Usually lips. these parts as organs of speech: I heard it from his own lips.
  3. a projecting edge on a container or other hollow object: the lip of a pitcher.
  4. a liplike part or structure, especially of anatomy.
  5. any edge or rim.
  6. the edge of an opening or cavity, as of a canyon or a wound: the lip of the crater.
  7. Slang. impudent talk; back talk: Don’t give me any of your lip.
  8. Botany. either of the two parts into which the corolla or calyx of certain plants, especially of the mint family, is divided.
  9. Zoology.
    1. a labium.
    2. the outer or the inner margin of the aperture of a gastropod’s shell.
  10. Music. the position and arrangement of lips and tongue in playing a wind instrument; embouchure.
  11. the cutting edge of a tool.
  12. the blade, at the end of an auger, which cuts the chip after it has been circumscribed by the spur.
  13. (in a twist drill) the cutting edge at the bottom of each flute.


  1. of or relating to the lips or a lip: lip ointment.
  2. characterized by or made with the lips: to read lip movements.
  3. superficial or insincere: to offer lip praise.

verb (used with object), lipped, lip·ping.

  1. to touch with the lips.
  2. Golf. to hit the ball over the rim of (the hole).
  3. to utter, especially softly.
  4. to kiss.

verb (used without object), lipped, lip·ping.

  1. to use the lips in playing a musical wind instrument.

Verb Phrases

  1. lip off, Slang. to talk impudently or belligerently.
  1. bite one’s lip/tongue, to repress one’s anger or other emotions: He wanted to return the insult, but bit his lip.
  2. button one’s lip, Slang. to keep silent, especially, to refrain from revealing information: They told him to button his lip if he didn’t want trouble.Also button up.
  3. hang on the lips of, to listen to very attentively: The members of the club hung on the lips of the visiting lecturer.
  4. keep a stiff upper lip,
    1. to face misfortune bravely and resolutely: Throughout the crisis they kept a stiff upper lip.
    2. to suppress the display of any emotion.
  5. smack one’s lips, to indicate one’s keen enjoyment or pleasurable anticipation of: We smacked our lips over the delicious meal.


  1. anatomy
    1. either of the two fleshy folds surrounding the mouth, playing an important role in the production of speech sounds, retaining food in the mouth, etcRelated adjective: labial
    2. (as modifier)lip salve
  2. the corresponding part in animals, esp mammals
  3. any structure resembling a lip, such as the rim of a crater, the margin of a gastropod shell, etc
  4. a nontechnical word for labium, labellum (def. 1)
  5. slang impudent talk or backchat
  6. the embouchure and control in the lips needed to blow wind and brass instruments
  7. bite one’s lip
    1. to stifle one’s feelings
    2. to be annoyed or irritated
  8. button one’s lip or button up one’s lip slang to stop talking: often imperative
  9. keep a stiff upper lip to maintain one’s courage or composure during a time of trouble without giving way to or revealing one’s emotions
  10. lick one’s lips or smack one’s lips to anticipate or recall something with glee or relish

verb lips, lipping or lipped

  1. (tr) to touch with the lip or lips
  2. (tr) to form or be a lip or lips for
  3. (tr) rare to murmur or whisper
  4. (intr) to use the lips in playing a wind instrument

c.1600, “to kiss,” from lip (n.). Meaning “to pronounce with the lips only” is from 1789. Related: Lipped; lipping.


Old English lippa, from Proto-Germanic *lepjon (cf. Old Frisian lippa, Middle Dutch lippe, Dutch lip, Old High German lefs, German Lefze, Swedish läpp, Danish læbe), from PIE *leb- “to lick; lip” (cf. Latin labium).

French lippe is from a Germanic source. Transferred sense of “edge or margin of a cup, etc.” is from 1590s. Slang sense “saucy talk” is from 1821, probably from move the lip (1570s) “utter even the slightest word (against someone).” To bite (one’s) lip “show vexation” is from early 14c. Stiff upper lip as a sign of courage is from 1833. Lip gloss is attested from 1939; lip balm from 1877. Related: Lips.


  1. Either of two fleshy folds that surround the opening of the mouth.
  2. A liplike structure bounding or encircling a bodily cavity or groove.

In addition to the idioms beginning with lip

  • lips are sealed, one’s
  • lip service

also see:

  • button up (one’s lip)
  • keep a stiff upper lip
  • lick one’s chops (lips)
  • pass one’s lips
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