Origin of nit1
Words nearby nit
Other definitions for nit (2 of 3)
Other definitions for nit (3 of 3)
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.
How to use nit in a sentence
Last week, the luxury fashion label launched the 2nd drop from its Spring capsule featuring silks, nits, and color blocking dresses.
If you really want to pick nits, there are some cut corners here, like the lack of wireless charging and water resistance.The Realme GT 5G is the world’s cheapest Snapdragon 888 phone|Ron Amadeo|March 4, 2021|Ars Technica
I would hope that more people—especially editors—would be nit-pickers!Female Journalist Gets Rape Threats Over Comic Book Criticism|Tauriq Moosa|April 21, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Some people turn nit into “night,” and the sol is solar, though it may be “salt” in Russian.The Collector: Rebecca Solnit on Textual Pleasure, Punk, and More|Lauren Elkin|July 2, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Instead, they have unleashed a storm of nit-picking and vilification.Niall Ferguson Defends Newsweek Cover: Correct This, Bloggers|Niall Ferguson|August 21, 2012|DAILY BEAST
Even after logging countless hours nit-picking her work, there is no one I'd rather spend time with.
If we had the sense of a Venusian water nit, we'd blast out of here so quick our tail fumes'd take off with us!Star Born|Andre Norton
Eppes as glatt knn es nit sein, glatt as denn nemmt mn un' mn kummt?
Un' as werd wieder der igener Gepilder, ws frher; Alle lufen un' me wisst nit wuhin.
Die ugen kucken in offenem Korben-minche, nor see sehn die Wrter nit.
Nor sie kuckt trucken, wie varstinert, in ihr Ssider; nit sie wint, nit sie dawent.