About This Word

bits and pieces

[bits uh nd pees-is]

What does bits and pieces mean?

The phrase bits and pieces refers to small fragments of something or a miscellaneous assortment of things

bits and pieces

Wired

Where does bits and pieces come from?

Separately, bits and pieces have long named “small fragments” or “increments” in a range of phrases. In pieces, for instance, is found as early as the 13th century while by bits appears in the 16th century. Bits and pieces, however, emerges at least by the 19th century for “various personal articles” or “fragments” of some material. Its use swelled in the 20th century.

The phrase follows a well-established pattern in the English language to convey things small and sundry: odds and ends, nooks and crannies, dribs and drabs, bits and pieces. The construction features an expressive redundancy that serves to emphasize the smallness of the matter.

Google Trends also shows an annual spike in popularity for bits and pieces in the months of November and December, which may be attributed to particular holiday food dishes with the phrase bits and pieces in the name, particularly a Midwestern cheese ball dish with various bits and pieces of nuts and herbs.

Who uses bits and pieces?

Bits and pieces is widespread in the English language, used in speech and writing and featured in book, film, and song titles. However, British English often uses similar phrases, bits and bobs or bits and bats.

There are a few particular ways bits and pieces is commonly used. One way is bits and pieces of a material (i.e., tiny parts of it). Here, it especially appears in the phrase in/to bits and pieces to describe something that’s been smashed or shattered. Another way is to metaphorically extend the phrase to emotions (e.g., “I’m in bits and pieces after she left me.”) And, finally loving someone to bits and pieces is way of saying you love them “very much.”

Users also frequently use bits and pieces for something irregular, random, haphazard, or miscellaneous. For instance, “I only caught bits and pieces of what the public announcement was saying,” or “I did bits and pieces of freelance work for the company.”

For example

Dhara’s story is only told in bits and pieces through Servants of the Empire, but for me she was one of the most memorable characters.

Megan Crouse, Den of Geek!. February, 2018

Caught bits and pieces of CNN's Town Hall last night. From what I did see, it seemed like it got pretty heated. Also seemed like those state reps were saying a bunch of bullshit too

@Da1nOnlyCMart, February, 2018

Throughout the building, they meticulously worked around the bits and pieces of history, like the latches and handles that are easily 250 years old and were found on hand-built cabinets in the bedrooms.

Lisa Spear, The Recorder, February, 2018

Sign up for our Newsletter!
Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.