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Origin of nit1
Words nearby nit
Definition for nit (2 of 3)
Definition for nit (3 of 3)
noun Chiefly British.
Origin of nit3
What does nit mean?
Nits are the eggs or young of small parasitic insects, most commonly lice. They are especially called this when they are attached to hair.
Example: Your scalp won’t be free of lice until you remove all the nits.
Where does nit come from?
The first records of nit come from before the 900s. It comes from the Old English hnitu, and many languages have similar words that all mean the same thing.
Lice have plagued humans for ages, and to get rid of every last louse (the singular form of lice) you have to pick out every last nit. The image of picking nits out of someone’s hair gives us the word nitpick (or nit–pick), meaning “to point out the very minor flaws or mistakes in something.” People sometimes use the word nit (in humorous reference to the word nitpick) as a noun meaning “a minor issue, flaw, or complaint,” as in I have just a few nits to pick with your paper.
Nit can be synonymous with nitwit (“a stupid or foolish person”), but the origin of nit in nitwit is uncertain. It may be a reference to louse eggs (which is a pretty sick insult), but it could also derive from an informal German word for not. The origin of nitty in nitty-gritty is also uncertain.
Nit is also used in a few contexts that are completely unrelated to louse eggs. In Australian slang, to keep nit is to keep watch. In physics, it’s a unit that measures luminance. In information science, a nit is a unit of information equal to 1.44 bits, also called a nepit. The word knit is completely unrelated.
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How is nit used in real life?
Nit is most commonly used in discussions of lice.
“No nit” lice policies don’t follow the science. https://t.co/XQ6fY1eGPC
— Science News (@ScienceNews) June 18, 2019
Just found out that “nits” are baby lice, so “nit-picking” is actually SUPER valid and understandable.
— Colette Des Georges (@ColetteorCoco) June 20, 2018
4th and 1 at midfield and a punt? Come on Carroll, don't be such a nit. Try to think like belechick, not holmgren…
— coffee_mike (@coffee_mike) December 15, 2013
Try using nit!
Is nit used correctly in the following sentence?
I’d rather be called a nitpicker than pick actual nits.
Example sentences from the Web for nit
It has not been individually taught; its personal experience is nit; but it has the benefit of ancestral experience.Fragments of science, V. 1-2|John Tyndall
Nor sie kuckt trucken, wie varstinert, in ihr Ssider; nit sie wint, nit sie dawent.
And as he glowered at the little Cuban, he ended his oration with one eloquent word, "Nit!"The Open Boat and Other Stories|Stephen Crane
But Lee wuz dead in earnest an' growin' more excited ivery min nit.The U.P. Trail|Zane Grey
Here with Kamala was the worth and purpose of his present life, nit with the business of Kamaswami.Siddhartha|Herman Hesse