two-bit

[ too-bit ]
/ ˈtuˌbɪt /

adjective Slang.

costing twenty-five cents.
inferior or unimportant; small-time: a two-bit actor.

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Origin of two-bit

An Americanism dating back to 1795–1805
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

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.

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for twobit?

What are some words that share a root or word element with twobit

What are some words that often get used in discussing twobit?

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.

 

 

Try using two-bit!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of two-bit?

A. worthless
B. quality
C. cheap
D. lousy

Example sentences from the Web for two-bit

British Dictionary definitions for two-bit

two-bit

adjective (prenominal) slang, mainly US and Canadian

worth next to nothing; cheap

Word Origin for two-bit

C20: from the phrase two bits a small sum
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