[ bit ]
See synonyms for bit on
  1. Machinery.

    • a removable drilling or boring tool for use in a brace, drill press, or the like.

    • a removable boring head used on certain kinds of drills, as a rock drill.

    • a device for drilling oil wells or the like, consisting of a horizontally rotating blade or an assembly of rotating toothed wheels.

  2. the mouthpiece of a bridle, having fittings at each end to which the reins are fastened.

  1. anything that curbs or restrains.

  2. the blade or iron of a carpenter's plane.

  3. the cutting part of an ax or hatchet.

  4. the wide portion at the end of an ordinary key that moves the bolt.

verb (used with object),bit·ted, bit·ting.
  1. to put a bit in the mouth of (a horse).

  2. to curb or restrain with, or as with, a bit.

  1. to grind a bit on (a key).

Idioms about bit

  1. take the bit in / between one's teeth, to cast off control; willfully go one's own way: He took the bit in his teeth and acted against his parents' wishes.

Origin of bit

First recorded before 900; Middle English bit(t)e, bit, bete “a strike or hit, a blow with a sharp weapon; the blade, tip, or point of a weapon,” Old English bíte “bite, pain, biting pain of a wound”; cognate with German Biss, Old Norse bit; see origin at bite

Other words from bit

  • bitless, adjective

Words Nearby bit

Other definitions for bit (2 of 5)

[ bit ]

  1. a small piece or quantity of anything: a bit of string.

  2. a short time: Wait a bit.

  1. Informal. an amount equivalent to 12½ U.S. cents (used only in even multiples): two bits; six bits.

  2. an act, performance, or routine: She's doing the Camille bit, pretending to be near collapse.

  3. a stereotypic or habitual set of behaviors, attitudes, or styles associated with an individual, role, situation, etc.: the whole Wall Street bit.

  4. Also called bit part. a very small role, as in a play or motion picture, containing few or no lines.: Compare walk-on (def. 1).

  5. any small coin: a threepenny bit.

  6. a Spanish or Mexican silver real worth 12½ cents, formerly current in parts of the United States.

Origin of bit

First recorded before 1000; Middle English bite “a bite, mouthful, portion,” Old English bita “bit, morsel, fragment”; cognate with German Bissen, Old Norse biti; see bite

Other words for bit

Other definitions for bit (3 of 5)

[ bit ]

  1. Also called binary digit. a single, basic unit of information, used in connection with computers and information theory.

Origin of bit

First recorded in 1945–50; b(inary) + (dig)it

Other definitions for bit (4 of 5)

[ bit ]

  1. simple past tense and a past participle of bite.

Other definitions for B.I.T. (5 of 5)


  1. Bachelor of Industrial Technology. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use bit in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for bit (1 of 4)


/ (bɪt) /

  1. a small piece, portion, or quantity

  2. a short time or distance

  1. US and Canadian informal the value of an eighth of a dollar: spoken of only in units of two: two bits

  2. any small coin

  3. short for bit part

  4. informal way of behaving, esp one intended to create a particular impression: she's doing the prima donna bit

  5. a bit rather; somewhat: a bit dreary

  6. a bit of

    • rather: a bit of a dope

    • a considerable amount: that must take quite a bit of courage

  7. a bit of all right, a bit of crumpet, a bit of stuff or a bit of tail British slang a sexually attractive woman

  8. bit by bit gradually

  9. bit on the side informal an extramarital affair

  10. do one's bit to make one's expected contribution

  11. every bit (foll by as) to the same degree: she was every bit as clever as her brother

  12. not a bit or not a bit of it not in the slightest; not at all

  13. to bits completely apart: to fall to bits

Origin of bit

Old English bite action of biting; see bite

British Dictionary definitions for bit (2 of 4)


/ (bɪt) /

  1. a metal mouthpiece, for controlling a horse on a bridle

  2. anything that restrains or curbs

  1. take the bit in one's teeth, take the bit between one's teeth, have the bit in one's teeth or have the bit between one's teeth

    • to undertake a task with determination

    • to rebel against control

  2. a cutting or drilling tool, part, or head in a brace, drill, etc

  3. the blade of a woodworking plane

  4. the part of a pair of pincers designed to grasp an object

  5. the copper end of a soldering iron

  6. the part of a key that engages the levers of a lock

verbbits, bitting or bitted (tr)
  1. to put a bit in the mouth of (a horse)

  2. to restrain; curb

Origin of bit

Old English bita; related to Old English bītan to bite

British Dictionary definitions for bit (3 of 4)


/ (bɪt) /

  1. the past tense and (archaic) past participle of bite

British Dictionary definitions for bit (4 of 4)


/ (bɪt) /

nounmaths computing
  1. a single digit of binary notation, represented either by 0 or by 1

  2. the smallest unit of information, indicating the presence or absence of a single feature

  1. a unit of capacity of a computer, consisting of an element of its physical structure capable of being in either of two states, such as a switch with on and off positions, or a microscopic magnet capable of alignment in two directions

Origin of bit

C20: from abbreviation of binary digit

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

Scientific definitions for bit


[ bĭt ]

  1. The smallest unit of computer memory. A bit holds one of two possible values, either of the binary digits 0 or 1. The term comes from the phrase binary digit. See Note at byte.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for bit


The smallest unit of information. One bit corresponds to a “yes” or “no.” Some examples of a bit of information: whether a light is on or off, whether a switch (like a transistor) is on or off, whether a grain of magnetized iron points up or down.

Notes for bit

The information in a digital computer is stored in the form of bits.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with bit


In addition to the idiom beginning with bit

  • bit by bit
  • bite off more than one can chew
  • bite one's nails
  • bite one's tongue
  • bite someone's head off
  • bite the bullet
  • bite the dust
  • bite the hand that feeds you

also see:

  • a bit
  • champ at the bit
  • do one's bit
  • every bit
  • not a bit
  • quite a bit
  • take the bit in one's mouth
  • two bits

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