Origin of two-bit
Words nearby two-bit
What does two-bit mean?
Two-bit means inferior, cheap, worthless, or insignificant.
The term is perhaps most commonly used to negatively describe a person considered to be a small-time hack—someone who’s not good at what they do due to having a very low level of talent or skill. It’s especially used as an insult applied to people who have a high opinion of themselves to call them out as being far inferior in reality.
Describing something as two-bit means it’s low-quality. This is especially applied to products.
This sense of two-bit is based on its literal meaning: costing 25 cents. The term two bits means 25 cents. It’s based on the sense of the word bit that refers to one eighth of a U.S. dollar, or 12 ½ cents. However, monetary amounts counted in bits were only ever given in multiples of two, as in two bits and six bits. Two bits became an informal way of referring to the value of the 25-cent coin known as the quarter. It then came to be used in a general way meaning a small amount. It’s still sometimes used this way, especially in negative statements, as in That piece of junk isn’t worth two bits or That job is like a vacation—I’d do it for two bits.
Two-bit is always used before the noun it describes.
Example: That two-bit manager is running this company into the ground.
Where does two-bit come from?
The first records of the term two-bit come from around 1800. The first records of the phrase two bits, in reference to 25 cents, come from around the 1720s. Both terms were first and are primarily used in the U.S.
One of the most common and insulting uses of two-bit is to describe someone or someone’s work, which effectively means that they are completely useless or that their work is obviously inferior compared to others. It’s often paired with a word that is already negative, such as con-man, crook, criminal, and huckster.
When the term is applied to things, it’s usually intended to indicate that such things are very low-end and therefore low-quality.
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How is two-bit used in real life?
Two-bit is very informal and is almost always used negatively. It’s perhaps most commonly used to insult people.
If it upsets you that you're blocked, don't worry. I'm just a two-bit actor who'll probably be unemployed in a few years. You'll get over it
— Rahul Kohli (@RahulKohli13) May 27, 2016
“Fighting against me will only make me more popular!” is something two-bit comic villains say when they’re losing.
— Sam Sykes (@SamSykesSwears) May 20, 2019
So sick of hack workarounds and excuses from lazy two-bit software companies
— Myles Carrick (@mylescarrick) September 3, 2015
Try using two-bit!
Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of two-bit?
How to use two-bit in a sentence
In a bit of foreshadowing, he repeated that opinion in November.
Interesting that those who sat in judgment of him found those two sets of beliefs to be incompatible.
If anything the work the two cops and the maintenance guy were doing deserves more respect and probably helped a lot more people.
Toomey lives here with her husband, Mark, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, and their two daughters.How Taryn Toomey’s ‘The Class’ Became New York’s Latest Fitness Craze|Lizzie Crocker|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
But no more so than the Sodexo building maintenance man or the two cops who were also killed in the crossfire.
The case was an assault and battery that came off between two men named Brown and Henderson.
On the thirteenth of the same month they bound to the stake, in order to burn alive, a man who had two religious in his house.
The night wore on, and the clock downstairs was striking the hour of two when she suddenly awakened.The Homesteader|Oscar Micheaux
"The Smoker," and "Mother and Daughter," a triptych, are two of her principal pictures.Women in the fine arts, from the Seventh Century B.C. to the Twentieth Century A.D.|Clara Erskine Clement
The Spaniards captured two schooners, having on board 22 officers and 30 men, all of whom were hanged or sent to the mines.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell