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
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.
We did the last bit of the journey on foot.
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.
• • •
▪ a little/tiny bit
The floor was covered in tiny bits of glass.
▪ 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