Menu Close

Bark is Worse than Bite

black and white photo growling dog on leash

Bark is Worse than Bite Definition

One’s bark is worse than ones. It can describe someone who’s actions don’t live up to their words or attitude.

All bark no bite is simply a more exaggerated spin on this idiom with essentially the same meaning.


The idiom describes a figurative dog who may bark loudly and often but doesn’t bite.

Bark is Worse than Bite Examples

  • “Your grandpa was on the porch and said if I don’t have you back home by 9pm sharp I’ll regret it..” “Oh don’t worry about him his bark is worse than his bite.”
  • He said he could beat me at every game at the fair. But I beat him at darts before we left and I think his bark is worse than his bite.
  • Dad said dinner is ready and if we don’t finish our game in five minutes he’ll sell our Nintendo. But he says that every night so I think he’s all bark and no bite


My bark is worse than my bite.

Wendy Williams

American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always when about to enter a protest very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent role of resistance:

Robert Lewis Dabney

Bark is Worse than Bite Origin

A cowardly cur barks more fiercely than it bites.

Quintus Curtius Rufus, Historiarum Alexandri Magni Macedonis Libri Qui Supersunt, Book VII

The likeliest origin of our idiom comes from a passage in Histories of Alexander the Great written by Quintus Curtius Rufus around the year 40 AD. Quintus Curtius a Roman historian, has little other concrete history. Although it’s almost certain he is the same Curtius Rufus that become a Roman consul under Emporer Claudius.

Related Idioms