Meaning of BIT in English


I. ˈbit, usu -d.+V noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English bitt, from Old English bite; akin to Old English bītan to bite — more at bite

1. obsolete : the action of biting ; also : grazing , eating

2. : something that is bitten or held with the teeth:

a. obsolete : bite II 5

b. : the part of a usually steel bridle that is inserted in the mouth of a horse together with its appendages (as the rings to which the reins are fastened) — see bar 1e(3), bridoon , curb , snaffle , bridle illustration

c. : the rimmed mouth end on the stem of a pipe or a cigar or cigarette holder

a fishtail bit


a. : the biting or cutting edge or part of a tool (as of an ax, adz, or rock drill) ; also : a replaceable part of a compound tool that actually performs the function (usually some form of cutting) for which the whole tool is designed (as a screwdriver blade or boring tool for use with a brace, an inserted saw tooth, a plane iron, or the copper head of a soldering iron)

b. bits plural : the jaws or nippers of tongs or pincers

4. : something that curbs or imposes a restraint on something or someone

folly curbed by honor's bit

5. : the part of a key which enters the lock and in which are cut the wards that act upon the bolt and tumblers

6. : a triangular earmark (as for identifying cattle) — see earmark illustration

7. : a piece of wire or brass fixed to a dandy roll to make a watermark in paper

- bit in one's teeth

II. transitive verb

( bitted ; bitted ; bitting ; bits )


a. : to put a bit in the mouth of (a horse)

b. : to accustom (a horse) to the bit

c. : to control with or as if with a bit : curb , check

2. : to form a bit on (a key)

III. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English bita; akin to Old English bītan to bite — more at bite

1. : a small quantity of food:

a. obsolete : a piece of food such as may be bitten off at once : bite

b. : morsel ; especially : a small delicacy

c. : fragment of food : scrap , leaving — usually used in plural

we can make supper from the bits

2. : a small piece, portion, or quantity of some material thing: as


(1) chiefly Scotland : place , spot

may I never stir from the bit — Sir Walter Scott

(2) of land or lands : a small or relatively small amount

planting the level bits to grain and terracing the hills for their vineyards

a bit of the old country set down in the midst of this American state


(1) : an old one-real piece worth 1/8 of a Spanish peso

(2) : a unit of value equivalent to 1/8 of a Spanish peso — used especially in designating the value of a piece of cut money

each piece of a peso cut into four parts was worth two bits

(3) : a unit of value equal to 1/8 of a dollar (12 1/2 cents) — used only of even multiples

four bits

six bits

(4) : a unit of value equal to 1/500 of a daler

2 1/2-, 5-, 10-, 25-, and 50- bit coins were issued

— used in the Virgin islands of the United States when they were the Danish West Indies

(5) in British Guiana : fourpence ; also : a corresponding unit of value equal to 1/6 of a florin

(6) Britain : any particular small coin

a threepenny bit

a sixpenny bit

c. : a small piece of hot glass gathered on an iron rod ready to be attached to a glass vessel (as to form a foot or handle)

d. ceramics : a loose material (as flint fragments) sprinkled over the bottom of a sagger to prevent glazed pieces (as cups) from adhering to it — called also bitstone

e. : a section of rootstock or rhizome (as of bananas) used in propagation

3. chiefly of immaterial objects : something small or unimportant of its kind: as

a. of time

(1) : a brief period : while

rest a bit longer

(2) chiefly Scotland : the exact or critical moment

he came just at the bit

(3) slang : a term of imprisonment

b. : somewhat : some degree or extent — used chiefly in the phrase a bit of

there is a bit of the cad in all men

a bit of a mystery

c. : the smallest or an insignificant amount or degree : whit , mite — often used adverbially with a

the sauce is a bit too sweet

she felt a bit better after her nap

d. : one's contribution however small to a cause — used chiefly in the phrase do one's bit

e. : a sketch or incident in a literary work or in a theatrical performance

leafing the pages seeking the bits that had brightened his childhood

one of the best bits was the bawdy exchange between the two brothers in the second act

often : a sketch forming a unit in a burlesque or nightclub show

f. : a small part usually with some spoken lines in a theatrical performance — compare walk-on

4. slang : a young woman : girl — sometimes used disparagingly

- a bit of all right

IV. adjective

chiefly Scotland : small

a bit lassie

bit portraits of worthies like Rob Roy — New Yorker


past or nonstandard past part of bite



variant of but

VII. noun

( -s )

Etymology: b inary dig it

1. : a unit of information equivalent to the result of a choice between two equally probable alternatives — used especially in communication and information theory

2. : a unit of memory corresponding to the ability to store the result of a choice between two alternatives — used especially in connection with digital computing devices

VIII. noun

Etymology: bit (III)

1. : a characteristic situation, appearance, behavior, or action

book burning, unless it's an embassy library, is strictly a Fascist bit — Gene Williams

I never have dates or call up a girl and meet her and take her out, that whole bit — Arthur Garfunkle

2. : an action or mode of behavior likened to a theater role or sketch

starts in with one of her crazy lunatic bits — Judith Rossner

3. : subject under consideration : matter

as for the bit about marriage being a woman's be-all and end-all — Letty C. Pogrebin

— often used as a general indirect reference to something specified or implied

the blouson top … matches exactly. The blouson bit is piped in suede — Lois Long

IX. noun

Etymology: bit (VII)

: the physical representation (as in a computer tape or memory) of a bit by an electrical pulse, a magnetized spot, or a hole whose presence or absence indicates data

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.