A cheat; one who bites us. “The biter bit” explains the origin. We say “a man was bitten” when he “burns his fingers” meddling with something which promised well but turned out a failure.
To bite one's thumb at another. To insult; to provoke to a quarrel.
“Gregory. I will frown as I pass by: and let them take it as they list.”
“Sampson. Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.” —Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, i. 1.
“She had to bite her lips till the blood came in order to keep down the angry words that would rise in her heart.” —Mrs. Gaskell: Mary Barton, chap. xi.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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