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its

[its]
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pronoun
  1. the possessive form of it1 (used as an attributive adjective): The book has lost its jacket. I'm sorry about its being so late.
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Origin of its

1590–1600; earlier it's, equivalent to it1 + 's2
Can be confusedit's its

Confusables note

A very common mistake is to write its (the possessive form of it ) when it's (the short form of it is or it has ) is required: It's [it is] unclear what he meant. It's [it has] been wonderful seeing you again. But do not use it's for it has when has is the main verb: It has a strong flavor; use it sparingly cannot be written as It's a strong flavor… An equally common mistake is to use it's for the possessive, probably because ordinary possessives of nouns are formed with an apostrophe: the dog's coat; Mary's cell phone. But the possessive its is a pronoun, not a noun, and, like other possessive pronouns ( his, hers, yours, and theirs ), is written without that particular bit of punctuation: I have to fix my bike. Its front wheel came off.

Usage note

While it is possible to use its as a predicate adjective ( The cat is angry because the bowl you're eating out of is its! ) or as a pronoun meaning “that or those belonging to it” ( Your notebook pages are torn. Borrow my notebook—its aren't ), such use is rare and in most circumstances strained. See also me.

it1

[it]
pronoun, nominative it, possessive its or (Obsolete or Dialect) it, objective it; plural nominative they, possessive their or theirs, objective them.
  1. (used to represent an inanimate thing understood, previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context): It has whitewall tires and red upholstery. You can't tell a book by its cover.
  2. (used to represent a person or animal understood, previously mentioned, or about to be mentioned whose gender is unknown or disregarded): It was the largest ever caught off the Florida coast. Who was it? It was John. The horse had its saddle on.
  3. (used to represent a group understood or previously mentioned): The judge told the jury it must decide two issues.
  4. (used to represent a concept or abstract idea understood or previously stated): It all started with Adam and Eve. He has been taught to believe it all his life.
  5. (used to represent an action or activity understood, previously mentioned, or about to be mentioned): Since you don't like it, you don't have to go skiing.
  6. (used as the impersonal subject of the verb to be, especially to refer to time, distance, or the weather): It is six o'clock. It is five miles to town. It was foggy.
  7. (used in statements expressing an action, condition, fact, circumstance, or situation without reference to an agent): If it weren't for Edna, I wouldn't go.
  8. (used in referring to something as the origin or cause of pain, pleasure, etc.): Where does it hurt? It looks bad for the candidate.
  9. (used in referring to a source not specifically named or described): It is said that love is blind.
  10. (used in referring to the general state of affairs; circumstances, fate, or life in general): How's it going with you?
  11. (used as an anticipatory subject or object to make a sentence more eloquent or suspenseful or to shift emphasis): It is necessary that you do your duty. It was a gun that he was carrying.
  12. Informal. (used instead of the pronoun its before a gerund): It having rained for only one hour didn't help the crops.
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noun
  1. (in children's games) the player called upon to perform some task, as, in tag, the one who must catch the other players.
  2. Slang.
    1. sex appeal.
    2. sexual intercourse.
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Idioms
  1. get with it, Slang. to become active or interested: He was warned to get with it or resign.
  2. have it, Informal.
    1. to love someone: She really has it bad for him.
    2. to possess the requisite abilities for something; be talented, adept, or proficient: In this business youeither have it or you don't.
  3. with it, Slang.
    1. aware of the latest fads, fashions, etc.; up-to-date.
    2. attentive or alert: I'm just not with it early in the morning.
    3. understanding or appreciative of something, as jazz.
    4. Carnival Slang.being a member of the carnival.
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Origin of it1

before 900; Middle English, variant of Middle English, Old English hit, neuter of he1

Usage note

See me.

it2

[it]
noun British Informal.
  1. sweet vermouth: gin and it.
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Origin of it2

1930–35; It(alian vermouth)

it's

[its]
  1. contraction of it is: It's starting to rain.
  2. contraction of it has: It's been a long time.
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Can be confusedit's its (see confusables note at its)

Usage note

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for its

its

determiner
    1. of, belonging to, or associated in some way with itits left rear wheel
    2. (as pronoun)each town claims its is the best
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IT

abbreviation for
  1. information technology
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it's

contraction of
  1. it is or it has
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usage

One of the commonest mistakes made in written English is the confusion of its and it's . You can see examples of this every day in books, magazines, and newspapers: its good for us; a smart case with it's own mirror, and even Cheng, and its' subsidiaries . Its refers to something belonging to or relating to a thing that has already been mentioned: the baby threw its rattle out of the pram . It's is a shortened way of saying it is or it has (the apostrophe indicates that a letter has been omitted: it's a lovely day; it's been a great weekend .

it1

pronoun (subjective or objective)
  1. refers to a nonhuman, animal, plant, or inanimate thing, or sometimes to a small babyit looks dangerous; give it a bone
  2. refers to an unspecified or implied antecedent or to a previous or understood clause, phrase, etcit is impossible; I knew it
  3. used to represent human life or experience either in totality or in respect of the present situationhow's it going?; I've had it; to brazen it out
  4. used as a formal subject (or object), referring to a following clause, phrase, or wordit helps to know the truth; I consider it dangerous to go on
  5. used in the nominative as the formal grammatical subject of impersonal verbs. When it functions absolutely in such sentences, not referring to any previous or following clause or phrase, the context is nearly always a description of the environment or of some physical sensationit is raining; it hurts
  6. (used as complement with be) informal the crucial or ultimate pointthe steering failed and I thought that was it
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noun
  1. (in children's games) the player whose turn it is to try to touch anotherCompare he 1 (def. 5b)
  2. informal
    1. sexual intercourse
    2. sex appeal
  3. informal a desirable quality or abilityhe's really got it
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Word Origin

Old English hit

it2

the internet domain name for
  1. Italy
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for its

neuter possessive pronoun; the modern word begins to appear in writing at the end of 16c., from it + genitive/possessive ending 's (q.v.), and "at first commonly written it's, a spelling retained by some to the beginning of the 19c." [OED]. The apostrophe came to be omitted, perhaps because it's already was established as a contraction of it is, or by general habit of omitting apostrophes in personal pronouns (hers, yours, theirs, etc.).

The neuter genitive pronoun in Middle English was his, but the clash between grammatical gender and sexual gender, or else the application of the word to both human and non-human subjects, evidently made users uncomfortable. Restriction of his to the masculine and avoidance of it as a neuter pronoun is evidenced in Middle English, and of it and thereof (as in KJV) were used for the neuter possessive. Also, from c.1300, simple it was used as a neuter possessive pronoun. But in literary use, his as a neuter pronoun continued into the 17c.

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it

pron.

Old English hit, neuter nominative and accusative of third person singular pronoun, from Proto-Germanic demonstrative base *khi- (cf. Old Frisian hit, Dutch het, Gothic hita "it"), from PIE *ko- "this" (see he). Used in place of any neuter noun, hence, as gender faded in Middle English, it took on the meaning "thing or animal spoken about before."

The h- was lost due to being in an unemphasized position, as in modern speech the h- in "give it to him," "ask her," "is only heard in the careful speech of the partially educated" [Weekley]. It "the sex act" is from 1610s; meaning "sex appeal (especially in a woman)" first attested 1904 in works of Rudyard Kipling, popularized 1927 as title of a book by Elinor Glyn, and by application of It Girl to silent-film star Clara Bow (1905-1965). In children's games, meaning "the one who must tag the others" is attested from 1842.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with its

it

In addition to the idioms beginning with it

also see:

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.