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bit 1 (bĭt)
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n.
1. A small portion, degree, or amount: a bit of lint; a bit of luck.
2. A brief amount of time; a moment: Wait a bit.
3.
a. A short scene or episode in a theatrical performance.
b. A bit part.
4. An entertainment routine given regularly by a performer; an act.
5. Informal
a. A particular kind of action, situation, or behavior: got tired of the macho bit.
b. A matter being considered: What's this bit about inflation?
6. Informal An amount equal to one eighth of a dollar: two bits.
7. Chiefly British A small coin: a threepenny bit.
Idioms:
a bit
To a small degree; somewhat: a bit warm.
bit by bit
Little by little; gradually.
do (one's) bit
To do one's part or contribute one's share.

[Middle English bite, morsel, from Old English bita; see bheid- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
bit 2 (bĭt)
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n.
1. The sharp part of a tool, such as the cutting edge of a knife or axe.
2. A pointed and threaded tool for drilling and boring that is secured in a brace, bitstock, or drill press.
3. The part of a key that enters the lock and engages the bolt and tumblers.
4. The tip of the mouthpiece on a pipe or a cigarette or cigar holder.
5. The metal mouthpiece of a bridle, serving to control, curb, and direct an animal.
6. Something that controls, guides, or curbs.
tr.v. bit·ted, bit·ting, bits
1. To place a bit in the mouth of (a horse, for example).
2. To check or control with or as if with a bit.
3. To make or grind a bit on (a key).
Idiom:
have/take the bit in one's teeth
To be uncontrollable; cast off restraint.

[Middle English bite, from Old English, act of biting; see bheid- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
bit 3 (bĭt)
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n.
Computers
A binary digit, having either the value 0 or 1, used to store or represent data.


The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
bit 4 (bĭt)
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v.
Past tense and a past participle of bite.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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