bite off more than one can chew, to

bite off more than one can chew

 
1. Lit. to take a larger mouthful of food than one can chew easily or comfortably. I bit off more than I could chew, and nearly choked.
2. Fig. to take (on) more than one can deal with; to be overconfident. Ann is exhausted again. She's always biting off more than she can chew.
See also: bite, can, chew, more, off, one

bite off more than one can chew

Take on more work or a bigger task than one can handle, as in With two additional jobs, Bill is clearly biting off more than he can chew. Cautions against taking on too much appear in medieval sources, although this particular metaphor, alluding to taking in more food than one can chew, dates only from about 1870.
See also: bite, can, chew, more, off, one

bite off more than one can chew, to

To take on more than one can accomplish; also, to be too greedy or too ambitious. Versions of this cliché, warning against taking on too much, date from the Middle Ages and appear in ancient Chinese writings as well. A lighthearted more recent example is Ogden Nash’s (from “Prayer at the End of a Rope,” 1939): “Let me not bite more off the cob than I have teeth to chew; please let me finish just one job before the next is due.”
See also: bite, can, more, off, one