Meaning of BIT in English


I. bit 1 S1 W1 /bɪt/ BrE AmE adverb , pronoun

1 . ONLY SLIGHTLY a bit especially British English

a) slightly or to a small degree SYN a little :

Could you turn the TV up a bit?

That’s a bit odd.

‘Are you sorry to be leaving?’ ‘Yes, I am a bit.’

Aren’t you being a little bit unfair?

I think you’re a bit too young to be watching this.

She looks a bit like my sister.

a bit better/older/easier etc

I feel a bit better now.

b) sometimes, but not very often:

I used to act a bit when I was younger.


In written English, people usually avoid a (little) bit and use slightly , rather , or somewhat instead:

This system is slightly more efficient.

The final cost was somewhat higher than expected.

2 . AMOUNT a bit especially British English informal a small amount of a substance or of something that is not a physical object SYN a little

a bit of

I may need a bit of help.

He still likes to do a bit of gardening.

I want to spend a bit of time with him before he goes.

With a bit of luck, we should have finished by five o'clock.

Everyone needs a little bit of encouragement.

‘Would you like cream in your coffee?’ ‘Yes please, just a bit.’

a bit more/less

Can we have a bit less noise, please?

3 . QUITE A LOT quite a bit ( also a good bit British English ) a fairly large amount or to a fairly large degree:

She’s quite a bit older than you, isn’t she?

He knows quite a bit about painting.

quite a bit of

I expect you do quite a bit of travelling?

quite a bit more/less

They’re worth quite a bit more than I thought.

4 . TIME/DISTANCE a bit especially British English a short period of time or a short distance SYN a while :

You’ll have to wait a bit.

I walked on a bit

in a bit

I’ll see you in a bit.

for a bit

We sat around for a bit, chatting.

5 . a bit of a something especially British English used to show that the way you describe something is only true to a limited degree:

The news came as a bit of a shock.

I felt a bit of a fool.

It looks like they left in a bit of a hurry.

6 . not a bit/not one bit especially British English not at all:

You’re not a bit like your brother.

Am I cross? No, not a bit of it.

I’m not in the least bit interested in whose fault it is.

Well, you haven’t surprised me, not one bit.

7 . every bit as important/bad/good etc especially British English used to emphasize that something is equally important, bad etc as something else:

Jodi plays every bit as well as the men.

8 . bit by bit especially British English gradually:

Bit by bit, I was starting to change my mind.

9 . a/one bit at a time especially British English in several small parts or stages:

Memorize it a bit at a time.

10 . take a bit of doing/explaining etc British English to be difficult to do, explain etc:

The new system took a bit of getting used to.

11 . be a bit much British English to be unacceptable, impolite, or unfair:

It’s a bit much when he criticizes us for doing something that he does himself.

12 . be a bit of all right British English informal used to say that someone is sexually attractive

13 . bit on the side British English informal someone’s bit on the side is a person they are having a sexual relationship with, even though they already have a wife, husband, or partner – used humorously or to show disapproval:

She stayed, in the hope that he’d tire of his bit on the side.

14 . a bit of stuff/fluff/skirt British English informal not polite offensive expressions meaning a young woman, especially one who is sexually attractive

15 . a bit of rough British English informal someone of a lower social class that someone has a sexual relationship with – used humorously

• • •


a bit, a bit of

Use a bit before an adjective, not before a noun or an adjective and noun:

He’s a bit shy (NOT a bit shy man).

Before a noun or an adjective and noun, use a bit of :

There was a bit of trouble (NOT a bit trouble).

It was a bit of a strange decision (NOT a bit strange decision).

You can also use a bit after a verb or its object:

I cried a bit (NOT a bit cried).

II. bit 2 S1 W1 BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Sense 1-3, 7-12: Language: Old English ; Origin: bita 'piece bitten off, small piece of food' ]

[ Sense 4: Date: 1900-2000 ; Origin: binary digit ]

[ Sense 5-6: Language: Old English ; Origin: bite 'act of biting' ]

1 . PIECE a small piece of something

bit of

bits of broken glass

He wedged the door open with a bit of wood.

break/rip/shake etc something to bits

The aircraft was blown to bits.

He’s taken the engine to bits.

fall/come to bits

The old house was falling to bits.

2 . PART British English informal a part of something larger:

This is the boring bit.

bit of

We did the last bit of the journey on foot.

bit about

Did you like the bit about the monkey?

3 . to bits British English informal very much or extremely:

Mark’s a darling – I love him to bits.

thrilled/chuffed/pleased to bits

I’ve always wanted a car, so I’m thrilled to bits.

4 . COMPUTER the smallest unit of information that a computer uses:

a 32-bit processor

5 . TOOL the sharp part of a tool for cutting or making holes:

a drill bit

6 . HORSE the metal bar attached to a horse’s ↑ bridle that is put into its mouth and used to control it ⇨ be champing at the bit at ↑ champ 1 (2)

7 . bits and pieces ( also bits and bobs British English ) informal any small things of various kinds:

Let me get all my bits and pieces together.

8 . do your bit informal to do a fair share of the work, effort etc that is needed to achieve something good or important:

Everyone should do their bit for the environment.

9 . get the bit between your teeth British English , take the bit between your teeth American English to do something or deal with something in a very determined way, so that you are not likely to stop until it is done

10 . MONEY

a) two bits/four bits American English informal 25 cents or 50 cents

b) British English old-fashioned a small coin

11 . pull something to bits British English informal to criticize something strongly:

The critics pulled his new play to bits.

12 . TYPICAL BEHAVIOUR/EXPERIENCE informal used to mean a kind of behaviour or experience that is typical of someone or something

the (whole) student/movie star/travelling etc bit

Then she gave us the concerned mother bit.

13 . be in bits British English spoken informal to be extremely upset because something unpleasant or disappointing has happened:

She was in bits after the race, and looked totally gutted.

• • •


■ adjectives

▪ a little/tiny bit

The floor was covered in tiny bits of glass.

■ verbs

▪ fall/come to bits (=separate into many different parts because of being old or damaged)

The book was so old that I was afraid it would fall to bits.

▪ break/smash to bits

The vase fell and smashed to bits on the concrete floor.

▪ rip/tear something to bits

She grabbed the letter and ripped it to bits.

▪ be blown to bits (=by a bomb)

A bus shelter nearby was blown to bits.

▪ take something to bits (=separate the parts of something)

Tony loves taking old radios and computers to bits.

III. bit 3 BrE AmE

the past tense of ↑ bite

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.