Definition of


  1. (noun, quantity) a small piece or quantity of something
    a bit of paper
    a bit of lint
    I gave him a bit of my mind
  2. (noun, object) a small fragment of something broken off from the whole
  3. (noun, time) an indefinitely short time
    in a mo
    it only takes a minute
    in just a bit
  4. (noun, event) an instance of some kind
    he had a bit of good luck
  5. (noun, artifact) piece of metal held in horse's mouth by reins and used to control the horse while riding
  6. (noun, quantity) a unit of measurement of information (from binary + digit); the amount of information in a system having two equiprobable states
  7. (noun, food) a small amount of solid food; a mouthful
  8. (noun, communication) a small fragment
  9. (noun, communication) a short theatrical performance that is part of a longer program
    she had a catchy little routine
    it was one of the best numbers he ever did
  10. (noun, artifact) the part of a key that enters a lock and lifts the tumblers
  11. (noun, artifact) the cutting part of a drill; usually pointed and threaded and is replaceable in a brace or bitstock or drill press

via WordNet, Princeton University

Origin of the word Bit

  1. related O.E. words bite "act of biting," and bita "piece bitten off," are probably the source of the modern words meaning "boring-piece of a drill" (1590s), "mouthpiece of a horse's bridle" (mid-14c.), and "a piece bitten off, morsel" (c.1000). All from P.Gmc. *biton (cf. O.S. biti, O.N. bit, O.Fris. bite, M.Du. bete, O.H.G. b… more
  2. computerese word, 1948 abbreviation (coined by J.W. Tukey) of binary digit, probably chosen for its identity with bit (1). more
  3. past tense of bite. more

via Online Etymology Dictionary, ©2001 Douglas Harper

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requiring more than usually expected or thought due; especially great patience and effort and skill