Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bit of stuff n.

[SE bit + stuff, material]

1. (also drop of stuff, lump of stuff, piece of stuff) a young woman, usu. attractive and often out enjoying herself.

[UK]Foote Maid of Bath I iv: She’s a tight bit of stuff.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘Tales of Hoy’ Works (1801) V 243: A Widow – a nice bit of stuff [...] a most lovely Piece!
[UK]Marryat Jacob Faithful II 130: One night he says to me, ‘Will, come up and I’ll show you a devilish fine piece of stuff.’ So I walks with him, and he takes me to a shop where they dealed in marine stores, and we goes and finds your mother in the back parlour.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick in England II 248: She was a’most a grand bit of stuff.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 13 Apr. 3/2 : He was in Pitt-street, where good luck threw in his way the charming little bit of stuff.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 84: Bit-of-Stuff [...] a young woman.
[UK]A. Binstead Mop Fair 159: I think of a little bit of stuff that I left behind in Nagasaki.
[UK]Leigh & Powell [perf. Marie Lloyd] Twiddly Wink [lyrics] ‘Where is the bit of stuff, sir, you met last year?’.
[US]O. Strange Sudden 68: She’s the prettiest bit o’ stuff this side o’ the Mississippi.
[UK]‘Henry Green’ Caught (2001) 146: Thinking to himself, what a smashing lump of stuff.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 30: The girl in the swimming costume [...] Lovely drop of stuff, she was, and proper juicy. [Ibid.] 143: She was a right bit of stuff.
[UK](con. 1912) B. Marshall George Brown’s Schooldays 140: I met a couple of bits of stuff during the hols.
[UK](con. WWII) B. Aldiss Soldier Erect 10: One spent one’s whole leave yarking it up some willing bit of stuff.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 205: I’d latched onto a bit of stray stuff.
[Ire]S. McAughtry Belfast 112: It’s the only way we’re going to get a bit of stuff.
[Ire]H. Leonard Out After Dark 6: He drove past them with a bit of stuff beside him.
[Ire]A. Roberts Rasherhouse n.p.: ‘Ay Betty,’ a voice Mags had not heard before, shouted from a window. ‘Who’s the new bit of stuff in the Rasherhouse?’ [BS].
[UK]J. Cameron Hell on Hoe Street 215: All the bits of stuff in Walthamstow came round.

2. a prize-fighter.

[UK]Egan Boxiana I 5: [note] The swell tinman, hooper [...] was considered as to size, one of the best ‘bits of stuff’ in the kingdom.
[UK]‘Peter Corcoran’ ‘Lines to Philip Samson’ in Fancy 88: Moulsey, whose turf is the sweetest to tread on, / Candidly owns you’re a good bit of stuff.
[UK]Jack Randall’s Diary 41: The Fibber, the Touter, the tight Bit of Stuff.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 5 Aug. 2/3: The CAUSA BELLI was simply, ‘I’ll punch your head’ from one. ‘You’re not the bit of stuff’ from the other.
[UK](con. 1851) Fights for the Championship 233: Harry Orme, a tough bit of stuff[...] defeated Aaron Jones.

3. an overdressed man; an over-confident man.

[UK]G.R. Gleig Subaltern’s Log-Book in DSUE (1984).
[UK]Sl. Dict. 84: Bit-of-Stuff overdressed man; a man with full confidence in his appearance and abilities.

4. (also bit) an admirable person.

[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 155: I call him Clay arter our senator, who is a prime bit of stuff.
[UK]Marryat Snarleyyow II 32: ‘That lad’s a prime bit of stuff,’ observed Spurey.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick in England II 113: She is a good bit of stuff is aunty.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 97: I could see he were all there, and a rare bit of stuff.
[US]H.L. Williams Three Black Smiths in Darkey Drama 4 31: He’s a nice bit!

5. (Aus.) a horse.

[UK]M.E. Kennard Girl in the Brown Habit I 15: Nags that are practically untried [...] makes a fellow long for a real good bit of stuff.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 Aug. 26/1: The timber ain’t so extra ’igh, but still, its ’igh enough, / A haccident might ’appen to the smartest bit o’ stuff.

6. (Aus./Irish) a tough, aggressive young man.

Quiz and the Lantern (Adelaide) 5 Apr. 14/1: Yes, John, altogether a leary bloke, / And doubtless up to snuff, / You were a chip of British oak, / A tough old bit of stuff.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 207: The sort of fellow that [...] liked to hear himself described as a ‘great little bit of stuff’.

In phrases