Champ At The Bit

Meanings of “Champ At The Bit”

The phrase “champ at the bit” means to become restless and impatient when starting something. It also means to become eager for starting something without any delay. It’s often misused as chomping at the bit.

Origin of “Champ At The Bit”

The phrase “champ at the bit” is stated to have originated from “Joseph: A Religious Poem” by Charles Lucas published in 1810 where it has been used as: “Twelve beauteous steeds, of golden color and with golden manes, champ at the bit.” The second reference has been found in The Decatur Daily Review in its publication of April 1920 where it goes with reference to horses that they are “chomping at the bit.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Culture Monster from The Los Angeles Times, March 02, 2012

Trucks have never really been my thing, but of the upcoming new musicals this season, I’m most curious about “Hands on a Hardbody,” the Doug Wright-Trey Anastasio-Amanda Green collaboration at La Jolla Playhouse. As for drama (or tragicomedy, to be more precise) I am champing at the bit for “Waiting for Godot,” with Alan Mandell and Barry McGovern sure to put on a Beckettian master class at the Mark Taper Forum.

Taken from The Lost Angeles Times, this passage shows the use of the phrase with reference to the play of Beckett, “Waiting for Godot” which the writer says, he is champing at the bit for. He clearly means that he is very restless to start this play so that he could enjoy the fame of working in this tour de force.

Example #2

Champing at the Bit by Every Time I Die

We drew a crowd
The crowd drew the blood
Fawning swindlers
There’s a shark in the stream where the newborns are baptized
Who let the flatterer into the gallery on our sweet sixteen? Take him away
Get him against the wall for the witnesses

This is doom in a borrowed suit
It’s a pickup line at a funeral
Cannibals along side the catwalk
But it’s OK we’re got old blood and our veins are rooted to the hornets nest again
New love is tasteless
We’re wearing down

Both stanzas clearly show the impatience of the singer that he is among the crowd that “drew the blood,” showing its impatience. The scene is of punishing a criminal. The second scene is about the post-modern reality of consumerism that is wearing down the people to start a new life.

Example #3

Sleeping in a Field by Christopher D. Owens

Ah, but therein, no doubt, lies the rub. He’s part of a “family” (though no family like most of us have ever known), seemingly a loving and concerned unit who tell him how wonderful he is, day in and day out. He’s probably never received that kind of attention before. In fact, most of his life he’s probably been kicked around, deserved or not, and told what an as***e he is. Now comes this strange group out of nowhere to tell him he no longer need be a worthless misfit. Who wouldn’t champ at the bit?

Taken from the novel, Sleeping in a Field, by Christopher Owens, this passage shows that the central focus of the narration is the boy who is the center of attention in the family. Therefore, when he is told that he is a misfit there, he feels quite impatient and restless to start anew. In other words, the phrase is showing the discomfort of the person.

Example #4

From Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration by Thomas Doherty

From his part, Breen had good reason to seek more job satisfaction. With the big battles won and the machinery of self-regulation humming along, day-to-day life at the PCA had settled into a dull routine punctuated by low-level guerilla warfare. After spending the second half of the 1930s in docile compliance, the turn toward the 1940s marked a measurable uptick in insolence and resistance from filmmakers. No one sought to overthrow the regime, only to sidestep and subvert it, to test the limits, gingerly and incrementally, torturing Breen – repayment in kind – with a thousand cuts. The incorrigibly recalcitrant became more openly rebellious; the reliably quiescent began to champ at the bit.

This passage shows the calm and reliable administration of Breen in Hollywood. When he had had repayment issues, he became impatient though he had been very calm in everything.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Whenever he sees his book, he becomes champ at the bit.”

Example #2: “He is champing at the bit like the horses to start the race.”

Example #3: “Whenever they see him, they think that they are going to champ at the bit. However, they do not find the courage to meet him, let alone starting the friendship.”

Example #4: “In case, you feel champing at the bit, you can have something to do and leave writing.”

Example #5: “Although his father has stopped him, he is feeling champing at the bit to go away from there.”