Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bit n.1

1. in monetary contexts, esp. a coin of low denomination; as a portion, a share.

(a) money; thus a purse containing money.

[UK]G. Walker Detection of Vyle and Detestable Use of Dice Play 30: He hath gotten a new chain, fyer new apparel, and some store of byte.
[UK]Dekker Belman of London E4: Before he play what store of Bit, he hath in his Bay, that is what money he hath in his purse, and whether it be in great Cogges or small that is, in gold or silver.
[UK]C. Hitchin Regulator 20: A Bit or Truff, alias Purse.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 30: The Files go before the Cull, and try his Cly; and if they feel a Bit, cry Gammon.
[UK] ‘The Dog and Duck Rig’ in Holloway & Black (1975) I 79: She will laugh whilst you’ve bit to get mellow.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 141: I have done one cull twice for his cligh and bit; if you’ll hold his smiters up, and I should see him again to-morrow, I’ll do him out and out.
[UK] ‘Mount’s Flash Song upon himself’ Confessions of Thomas Mount 22: Tommy, tip me the bit, he said, / And I’m the cove that’ll bring you thro’.
[UK] ‘The Dustman’s Delight’ in Holloway & Black (1975) I 87: The queer cull was done rumly and touched for his bit.
[UK]Morn. Post (London) 22 Jan. 3/3: A lucky bit will pay each debt, / And make you rich beside, Sir.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 37: To share the spoil and grab the bit.
[UK]D. Haggart Autobiog. 23: Barney made a very unceremonious flip at the bit. The cove turned quickly round to make a snatch at him.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 310: To prevent mistakes respecting my bit, I have not a bit to leave; it having been with me, for some time past – pockets to let, unfurnished.
[UK]Manchester Courier 29 June 2/3: Here are a couple of rum coves coming up; if you work the finger toppers well we shall touch the bit .
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 6: BIT, a purse, or any sum of money.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. [as cit. 1859].
[UK]G.R. Sims Dagonet Ballads 18: He’d made a bit at the farmin’, and was counted as well to do.
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 178: Reckon ’e makes ’is little bit awright.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Bound for the Lord-Knows-Where’ in Roderick (1967–9) II 197: ‘We have made a hit,’ or ‘we’ve made a bit,’ / And we’re bound for the lord-knows-where.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 37: By th’ time you get through slippin’ it to coppers and politicians, you ain’t got much left for your bit.
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 146: He had seen the Ponies come scooting into the Home Chute, and then he had hurried in to mace his Bit from Ikey.
[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross ‘The Dark Diceman’ in Bitten by the Tarantula (2005) 212: He’d probably a bit put by and it was as well to keep on the right side.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 9: I remember the hard work and the very little bit we had, but it was a good little bit. It counted very much.

(b) the silver coin of the lowest denomination; in cit. 1698 the bit is 7.5d., thus ten bits = 75d. or 6s. and 3d.

[UK]N. Ward ‘A Trip to Jamaica’ in Writings (1704) 166: Nasty Claret, Half a Crown; Rhenish Five Shillings: And their best Canary, Ten Bits, or Six and Three Pence.
[UK]Dyche & Pardon A New General Eng. Dict. (5th edn) n.p.: Bit (s.) ... In the West Indies, it is the least piece of silver coin, which goes current at 7 pence halfpenny [F&H].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Bit Money. Cant. the smallest current coin in the West Indies.
[UK]Banquet of Wit 59: [note] A bit in Barbadoes, is a piece of money valued at 7d.
[WI]S.A. Mathews Willshire Squeeze 30: And with bent knees, said if you please, / ’Tis six bits and a half [...] A bit is the twelth-part of a dollar.
[WI]T. Foulks Eighteen Months in Jamaica 32: The lower order of speculators is contented with ‘tossing up’ a bit, a ten-pence, or a macaroni.
[US]D. Corcoran Pickings from N.O. Picayune (1847) 47: ‘What do you give?’ ‘Ten bits a day.’.
[US]S. Northup Twelve Years A Slave 172: Potatoes are worth from two to three ‘bits,’ or shillings a barrel.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. 75: A bit is the smallest coin in Jamaica, equal to 6d.
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 136: In other parts of the Union it is represented by a term which has come from the West Indies. There — especially in Jamaica — a bit meant the smallest silver coin current, worth about sevenpence ha’penny; from thence the Southern States obtained their bit, fully known as fi’penny-bit, amounting to six and a quarter cents; a defaced twenty-cent piece being called a long bit.
[US]Scribner’s Monthly July 277: For a young city, San Francisco is very much wedded to petty traditions. It clings to the bit with a deathlike tenacity; clings to it against all reason and against its own interests. The bit is a mythical quantity. It is neither twelve and a half cents, nor half of twenty-five; it is neither fifteen cents nor ten cents. If you buy a bit’s worth, and throw down twenty-five cents, you get ten cents back; if you offer the same ten cents in lieu of a bit, you are looked upon as a mild sort of swindler. And yet, the bit is the standard of minimum monetary value [F&H].

(c) (UK Und.) a purse.

[UK](con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in Groom (1999) xxix: A Bit or Truff A Purse.
see sense 1a.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.

(d) (US) 12.5 cents; but usu. in phrs. two bits n., four bits , six bits , long bit , short bit

A. Singleton Letters from the South and West 127: A bit is the Pennsylvania elevenpence, the New York shilling, and the New England ninepence.
[US]N.-Y. Eve. Post 15 Aug. 2/4: Mr. M’Ewen advised her to apologise to the Magistrate. Woman. You d—n spalpeen, and who are you. Mag. Madam, you must give security, or I will commit you. Woman. The devil a bit will I give.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[US]‘Edmund Kirke’ My Southern Friends 49: The latter region [...] was absolutely packed with thirsty natives imbibing certain fluids known at the South as ‘blue ruin,’ ‘bust-head,’ [...] and ‘devil’s dye,’ at the rate of a ‘bit’ a glass.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 408: ‘And you think Col. Bowles fooled us, when he induced us to leave the place?’ ‘Why, it’s dollars to bits he’s done it.’.
[US]‘Dan de Quille’ Big Bonanza (1947) 268: The majority of these saloons are what are called ‘bit houses’; that is, drinks of all kinds and cigars are one bit – twelve and one half cents.
[US]Atchison (KS) Globe 24 Apr. 3/4: He is lucky if he averages eight bits a day.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 89: They let me have ’em for one dollar (eight bits, they call it out there) apiece.
[US]Van Loan ‘A Rain Check’ Ten-Thousand-Dollar Arm 312: Receiving homage, ‘bit’ cigars, and kind words.
[US]Ade Old-Time Saloon 76: ‘Bit’ means twelve and one-half cents. ‘The long bit’ was fifteen cents and the ‘short bit’ was a dime.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Cooked!’ Dan Turner Hollywood Detective Jan. [Internet] I tipped the bell-hop four bits and said: ’Scram, kid.‘.
[US](con. late 19C) C. Jeffords Shady Ladies of the Old West [Internet] The males downed a shot of one-bit (12 ½c.) whiskey and the ladies fraudulent champagne.

(e) any low-denomination coin, e.g. threepenny bit, fourpenny bit.

[UK]Dickens ‘Slang’ in Household Words 24 Sept. 75/2: Fourpenny pieces [are] joeys or bits.
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue 2: Bit, n. Fourpence.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 5: BIT, fourpence [...] A bit is the smallest coin in Jamaica, equal to 6d.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]C. Rampini Letters from Jamaica 95: The negro nomenclature of coins is as follows: – [...] Bit, fourpence halfpenny.
[Aus]Morn. Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld) 18 July 2/6: For fourpenny pieces we find the name of ‘bit,’ ‘castle-rag,’ ‘flag. [...] ‘joey,’ and ‘quarterer saltee’.
[UK]A. Binstead Mop Fair 169: The Intimidating Israelite [...] won his title with a pack of cards while keeping a Leytonstone livery stable tidy at eighteen bits per week.
[US]M. Beckwith Black Roadways 49: The following names [...] still in use today: Bit, 4½d. or 9 cents. Four bits, 1s. 6d. or 36 cents.
[UK]I. & P. Opie Lore and Lang. of Schoolchildren (1977) 175: A threepenny piece is a ‘bit’.
[WI](con. 1940s) L. Bennett ‘Mout Taxes’ in Jamaica Labrish 69: Bit-an-fip kean pay mout-taxes.
[UK]I. Welsh Glue 9: Henry then fished in his trouser pockets, producing a couple of two-bob bits.

(f) (US Und.) a bribe, e.g., as offered by a thief to a policeman.

[US]Chicago Record 19 Feb. n.p. : During 1891 and 1892 there were a dozen ordinances which brought in their ‘bits,’ yet in one case the price went down to 300 dollars.
[US]Ade Forty Modern Fables 227: He got his Bit every time he Pinched any one.
[US]Bliss From Boniface to Bank Burglar in Hamilton (1952) 47: The small-fry thief was [...] paying his ‘bit’ to the coppers on post.
D. Gilbert Amer. Vaudeville: Its Life and Times (1968) 235: Besides the commission splits and the general system of chiseling — ‘bits,’ as the actors termed the constant handouts to the parasites in power and the incessant tips.

(g) (US Und.) a share of the profit from a theft.

[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 301: Blow me if you ain’t all right [...] and you’ll get your bit for this.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 19: You understand of course that we get our bit out of that mazuma. Come through.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 77: What’s my bit amount to?
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 17: bit [...] A portion; a division; a share or a part of anything, as profits or proceeds of a transaction. Example: ‘You’re supposed to be in on anything that comes off, so you’re entitled to your bit.’.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 74: I had over $22,000 for my share of the cash in addition to a ‘bit’ out of the jewels.
[US] ‘Und. “Lingo” Brought Up-to-Date’ L.A. Times 8 Nov. K3: BIT: A share.
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 320: Bit, 1. Share of proceeds from a theft.

(h) a wager, an investment, an insurance premium.

implied in get/have a bit on

2. lit. or fig. representing a portion, i.e. a bit of flesh, a bit to eat.

(a) a young woman, usu. seen in a sexual context; also in combs. as below or listed at relevant n. [note D’Urfey, Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719): ‘Your most Beautiful Bit, that hath all Eyes upon her’; also ‘Walter’, My Secret Life (1888-94): ‘That little bit of a girl, Jemmy Smith’].

[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 64: Butchers have jolly handsome Wives [...] make choice of a fine young plump bit for themselves.
[UK] ‘The Careless Gallant’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) II 723: Your beautiful bit, that hath all eyes upon her.
[UK]Caledonian Mercury 6 Sept. 3/1: She’s a Bit for the Vicar, / And so I shall lose Molly Mog.
[UK] ‘Tear Duff Billy’ in Ri-tum Ti-tum Songster 17: She vos sitch a lascivious bit.
[US] ‘Rapperty’s Party’ in Donnybrook-Fair Comic Songster 50: Paddy Dougherty’s wife – a neat, tidy bit.
[UK] ‘New Year’s Day’ in Pearl Christmas Annual 21: By jingo! [...] she’s a dainty bit that would stir up my blood had I been as old and effete as Beaconsfield himself.
[UK]E. Pugh Man of Straw 61: Eva was a dainty little bit before; as a possible heiress she is nothing short of beautiful.
[Ire]Joyce ‘A Little Cloud’ Dubliners (1956) 75: Of course you do find spicy bits in Paris. Go to one of the students’ balls, for instance. That’s lively, if you like, when the cocottes begin to let themselves loose.
[UK]‘Henry Green’ Living (1978) 208: And ’ow does your little bit like it when you come ’ome and lay yer head up against hers on the pillow and her ’as only been married to you three months and as can’t be used to the dirt.
[UK]W. Holtby South Riding (1988) 294: I thought she was a niceish bit when we first came down here.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 20: Right dopey bastard he was with a lovely bit like this.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 159: There’s plenty of decent girls knocking about, without getting landed with a bit like that.
[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross Of Love And Hunger 137: Still, she was a nice bit.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 192: ‘Can I have something to eat?’ asked the yid bit.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 20: I took her with Flash and his bit to the Showground.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 195: Three times a week I have this Danish bit comes over and gives me a massage as well.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 30: Seventeen-year-old Antiguan bit on some palm beach.
[UK]D. Farson Never a Normal Man 320: They [...] were eager to meet Peter’s Danish ‘bit’.
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. 2011.
[US]T. Black Ringer [ebook] Some daft prick’s pulled this big French bit and fucked it up for himself.

(b) (also the bit) a euph. for the vagina.

[UK]‘A New Medley’ in Ebsworth Merry Drollery Compleat (1875) 346: The first cut of that bit you love, / If others had, whay mayn’t you prove / But taster to another?
[UK] ‘The Death Of Peg The Mot’ in Frisky Vocalist 13: She quizz’d the men so sly, / And said, ‘My mutton’s sweet!’ [...] The kiddies for a bit all ran.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 191: morceau, m. 2. The female pudendum; ‘the bit’.
[Ire]J. Banville Ghosts 74: That is how they told it hereabouts, where every other cottage harbours a canny bachelor on the lookout for a secondhand mate, one well accustomed to the bit .
[Ire]P. Howard PS, I Scored the Bridesmaids 73: A long, drunken and fruitless search for my bit last night.

(c) sexual intercourse; usu. in combs. as below or at the relevant n.

[UK]T. Killigrew Thomaso Pt I V ii: The Quean dotes, that makes me steal a bit now and then from her Mistress to give to her.
[UK]Henry Hughes ‘A Lady to a Young Courtier’ in Wardroper (1969) 112: Mark how Sir Whacham fools. / Ay, marry, there’s a wit / That cares not what he says or swears, / So ladies laugh at it. / Who can deny such blades a bit?
[UK]Wandring Whore V 11: What would not some men give for a dainty bit in a corner, the forbidden fruit is sweetest.
Westminster Frolick n.p.: A wanton Wife that loved a relishing Bit.
[UK]C. Cotton Scoffer Scoff’d (1765) 267: And if the little wanton Tit / But saw thee once, I’m sure of it, / She would both home and husband quit, / To follow thee for dainty Bit.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy IV 72: ’Twas the truncheon Mars did use, / A Bed-ward bit which Maidens chuse.
[UK]St James’s Register 21: [She] could not bear to see a Bit escape her.
[UK]Covent Garden Mag. Dec. 234/1: Whene’er she inclined to sup, breakfast, or dine, / She might also be be fed with a bit next the loin.
[UK]Banquet of Wit 59: ‘I’ll give you a bit for it’ [i.e. a piece of meat] ‘D—n your bit, madam, I want none of your bits, replied the butcher, I’vwe got a much better bit at home’.
[UK]‘’Mid Young Whores & Gallows She’s’ in Out-and-Outer in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 141: ’Mid young whores and gallows she’, tho’ we may roam, / To seek for a sly bit, there’s no place like home.
[UK] ‘The Rakish Gentleman’ in Knowing Chaunter 44: There’s Mrs. Brown, the doctor’s wife, She’s frisky, round, and plump, / So I call on her for my breakfast bit – / Oh, she’s such a crummy lump.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 18: Arresser. 1. To copulate; ‘to do a bedward bit’. [Ibid.] 65: Choser. To copulate; ‘to have a blindfold bit’.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 86: Maybe she was short of a bit. It was on the cards that Arthur could not serve her good. He looked a weakling sort of a bastard.
[Ire]J.P. Donleavy Ginger Man (1958) 160: Don’t you want a bit?
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 35: You’ve had yours, and now we fancy a bit.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 68: Ain’t nuthin’ like a little bit to make ya feel so good.
[Aus](con. 1940s–60s) Hogbotel & ffuckes ‘Oysters is Amorous’ in Snatches and Lays 76: ’E says Liza, ’e says, ’ow about a bit.
[UK]P. Barker Blow Your House Down 71: Next time you fancy a bit just shove it up your arsehole and make a jug handle of it, right?
[Aus]Penguin Bk of More Aus. Jokes 429: A pretty young woman came up to him and whispered, ‘’Ello, mon cher. Would you like a bit?’.
[Ire]P. McCabe Breakfast on Pluto 1: What’s the chance of a bit tonight then, Mrs Riley?

(d) (Ulster) a worker’s or schoolchild’s packed lunch, i.e. a bit to eat.

[[UK] ‘A New Dialogue’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) I 69: You feed them up with bit and sup, / then give ’em a dirty Teat].
[Ire]S. MacManus Rocky Road to Dublin n.p.: Underneath the desks [...] there was a rich commerce in trogging of all the various merchandise transported in boys’ pockets – even to their bit [BS].

(e) as ext. of sense 2a, in gay use, a young man.

[UK]J. Gielgud letter 13 May in Mangan John Gielgud’s Letters (2004) 231: Ed is being blackmailed by some Florentine ex-bit.
[SA]K. Cage Gayle.

3. as a period of time.

(a) a short time, a brief period; usu. as for a bit.

[UK]J. Mills Old Eng. Gentleman (1847) 317: ‘Stop a bit, Button,’ said Striver.
[UK]G.A. Sala Gaslight and Daylight 134: ‘Wait a bit,’ says he. Three days afterwards he came out with the fat barmaid.
[UK]‘George Eliot’ Mill on the Floss (1985) II 316: Stop a bit: we mustn’t be in too great a hurry.
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 583: Bit, a, in the sense of a little while. ‘If you’ll wait a bit, I’ll go with you.’.
[UK]R.L. Stevenson Treasure Island 2: I’ll stay here a bit.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 25 Apr. 9/2: How so many people got into the house puzzled us for a bit.
[UK]Marvel XIII: 322 Jan. 3: This has turned out a tough bit!
[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:i 70: bit, n. While, time. ‘It takes a good bit to sell a man a thing he doesn’t want.’.
[US]W.M. Raine Bucky O’Connor (1910) 39: I’ll set my rangers at rounding up the border towns a bit.
[Can]R. Service ‘The Ballad of How MacPherson Held the Floor’ in Bar Room Ballads (1978) 610: He smiled a smile behind his hand, and chuckled: ‘Wait a bit’.
[US]H.A. Smith Life in a Putty Knife Factory (1948) 75: He prowled around a bit on the ground floor.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 88: When I finish my roundup on earth and start my bit in hell / I hope to see ’em fry each and every guy that’s ever let that word yell.

(b) (UK/US Und.) a prison sentence of any length; thus one-year bit, two-year bit etc.

implied in do a/one’s bit
[UK] ‘Six Years in the Prisons of England’ in Temple Bar Mag. Feb. 374: The jail bird [...] would go a considerable way into a ‘fresh bit’ before the poor clergyman had finished his sentence.
[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 152: The week after I was chucked up I did a snatch near St. Paul’s, was collared, lagged, and got this bit of seven stretch.
[US]J. Hawthorne Confessions of Convict 157: If cons live out their ‘bit’ and return to the upper world without carrying with them the germs of some fell disease, it is a miracle.
[UK]Marvel XIV:344 June 1: Penal servitude for life? Oh, that’s your bit, is it?
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 19 Oct. 5/1: The last bit he done was on the Island for glomming a benny.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 265: Since this new law you can get a two-years’ bit [...] just for selling the stuff.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 397: Bit. Prison term. To do a bit. Handed a bit.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 58: The first touch I made in New York, after my ten year bit in England, was that of an old man.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 94: She finished her bit in the workhouse two days before I got there.
[US]C.S. Montanye ‘Frozen Stiff’ in Popular Detective Mar. [Internet] Franz [...] had finished his parole bit some two months previous.
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 320: Bit, [...] 2. A prison sentence.
[US]J. Blake letter 7 Feb. in Joint (1972) 56: J.P., our former drummer, has returned to the joint with a fresh bit.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 243: You think your chick go’ lay with you if you git a bit?
[US]D. Goines Street Players 122: Here you are about to begin a six-month bit.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 62: Gangster Webster would soon fall to a fifty-year bit.
[US]G. Pelecanos Shame the Devil 203: On the last day of his bit, he promised Farrow and Otis he’d stay in touch.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘Hard Cases’ Wire ser. 2 ep. 4 [TV script] One year on a seven-year bit.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] ‘Convicted felon in possession of a concealed firearm. That’s a pound zip-bit right there.’ Five-year minimum sentence.

(c) (US drugs) the duration of the effect of a given drug.

[US] in S. Harris Hellhole 222: His pill bit was done and he told me about the shooting.

(d) a period of time in any institution, e.g. a drug rehabilitation hospital.

[US]M. Agar Ripping and Running 141: Hold on, is that any way to treat your old bit partners? [...] We did a bit together man, we’re tight.

4. (orig. US jazz) in abstract terms [theatrical jargon bit, a role].

(a) any well-defined action, plan, series of events, or attitudes, usu. but not necessarily of short duration.

[US]‘Max Brand’ ‘Above the Law’ in Coll. Stories (1994) 30: ‘So you did your little bandit bit, did you?’ she said at last with keen irony.
[US]H. Ellison ‘With a Knife in her Hand’ in Deadly Streets (1983) 122: We didn’t dig that bit the other night when we knocked over the candy store.
[US]Mad mag. Jan. 48: And flashing a sign, like that old ‘Schnozzle’ bit.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 8: I had just had the full bit, and I was no better off than I had been.
[US]C. Himes Blind Man with a Pistol (1971) 98: I want you two men to keep on this riot bit that the lieutenant assigned you to.
[US]C. McFadden Serial 47: I’m starting to flash on this whole bit.
[US]R. Campbell Alice in La-La Land (1999) 130: He thought he’d use the bit to define a character in a screenplay some day.

(b) the role that one assumes in a situation or in life, e.g. the college-boy bit, the hippie bit.

[[US]Daily Trib. (Bismarck, ND) 23 Oct. 4/1: An actor’s character is his part [...] a small one with good opportunities is a ‘bit.’].
[US]L. Lipton Holy Barbarians 71: It’s the old Oedipus bit, ain’ it?
[US]M. Spillane Return of the Hood 33: I want to see a big war hero who digs the hood bit turn patriotic.
[Aus]B. Humphries Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 105: I’m hung up on the royalty bit.
[US]K. Brasselle Cannibals 280: He’s playing the big star bit.
[US](con. 1950s) H. Junker ‘The Fifties’ in Eisen Age of Rock 2 (1970) 100: Alienation was the absurd egghead bit.
[US]G. Scott-Heron Vulture (1996) 111: We managed to have a tree and a big Christmas dinner and the whole family bit.
[UK]Nova Apr. 99: How did you do your Army bit?
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 14: The onion bit never checked out.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 33: What’s this black power bit, baby?
[US]C. McFadden Serial 103: I’ve had it with the bicycle widow bit.
[Ire]J. Morrow Confessions of Proinsias O’Toole 25: They were doing their undercover bit, scoop-peak caps pulled down over their eyes.
[US]R. Campbell Alice in La-La Land (1999) 18: You don’t have to do the Sir Walter Raleigh bit for me, Whistler.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 3: He was definitely in the wrong place to be doing the tourist bit.
[US]G. Sikes 8 Ball Chicks (1998) 220: The counsellor bit had lasted maybe three minutes.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 85: Have a few laughs [...] then go into that bit about his guilt, how he’d felt sad.
[US]P. Beatty Tuff 164: That ain’t nothing new. It’s basically the chloroform dog-snatching bit.
[UK]J. Stevenson London Bridges (2001) 155: If any of the neighbours see me, they’ll think I’m doing the concerned relative bit.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 310: The Arden bit bugged him. It bugged him incessant. It bugged him nonstop.
[US]G. Phillips ‘Slicers’ Serenade of Steel’ in Pulp Ink [ebook] Sally Sincyr, a con woman who specialized in the grieving niece bit.

5. (UK Und.) a drug in pill form, e.g. Ecstasy or amphetamine.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 116: ‘How many bits are we talkin about here?’ ‘Two million.’ [...] ‘That’s a lotta pills.’.

6. (UK teen) as bits, bitz, one's local neighbbourhhod, esp. in context of a gang.

www.reddit.com/r/hiphopheads Grime Terminology Guide [Internet] Manor/Bits, – Same as ends.
[UK]Independent 5 Jan. [Internet] Gangs and cliques are often territorial, so terms such as endz, bitz, yard (meaning neighborhood), or road and roadboy (someone accepted as local), are especially important.

7. see bit of stuff n. (4)

Pertaining to women/sex

In phrases

bit for the finger (n.)

sexual fondling.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 392/2: C.19.
bit in the corner (n.)

usu. of a woman, a partner in adultery.

[UK]School of Venus (2004) 10: Oftentimes the Husband has some varoety by having a bit in the corner, as for example, your Father had often his pleasure of your Maid Servant .
bit of brown (n.)

1. copulation [the brown pubic hair].

‘The Unconscionable Gallant’ n.p.: Half a piece [i.e. ten shillings] is too much for a poor single touch [...] To give more than a Crown for a bit of the Brown / I can have it for less of the Girls of the Town.
[UK]‘Guess the Rest’ in Flash Minstrel! in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) I 104: A dustman called Black Joe, / Went courting Peggy Brown, / And begg’d she would bestow / On him a bit of the brown.
[UK] ‘Betty & Joe’ Rakish Rhymer (1917) 28: But as to gals, my charming Bet, no other one’s for Joe, / For I recollect the bits of brown you give me down below.

2. sodomy [brown n. (3)].

[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) VI 1151: ‘Are you fond of a bit of brown?’ — he asked — I did not understand and he explained. — ‘We always say a bit of brown among ourselves, and a cunt’s a bit of red.’.
bit of cuff (n.) [SE bit + (off the) cuff, i.e. spontaneous sex, or SE cuff, a blow; thus one of the wide range of terms that equate sex with violence]

a young woman, regarded as a sex object; thus sexual intercourse.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 83/2: late C.19–early 20.
bit of frock (n.) [SE frock]

an attractive (young) woman.

[UK] ‘’Arry and the [...] Lady Cyclists’ in Punch 15 June 285/1: Smart bits o’ frock from Mayfair.
[UK]Sporting Times 10 Mar. 1/4: The ‘next, please!’ on the list was a smart bit of frock.
[UK]E. Pugh Cockney At Home 61: You see, Soph was a lively bit o’ frock.
bit of fruit (n.) [fruit n. (3)]

1. an attractive woman.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 11 Dec. 4/7: We have seen you spending money / On a tasty bit of fruit, / While your Eastern wives were toiling / Minus bread and minus boot.

2. sexual intercourse.

[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Confessions 106: I was beginning to fancy a bit of fruit again.
bit of melon (n.)

(Aus.) an attractive female.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Sept. 40/1: Girls is very fond of darncin’. My oath! Yer see that bit o’ melon in the ’eliotrope?
bit of muslin (n.) (also morsel of muslin, muslin, piece of muslin, piece of fine linen) [SE bit + muslin, a cloth used for dress-making, thus metonymy]

a young woman; thus young women as a group, the muslin company.

[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry I i: Oh! what you’ve got a bit of muslin on the sly, have you?
[Ire]Tom And Jerry; Musical Extravaganza I v: I frequently resort here to [...] make assignations with pieces of muslin.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 75: There have been numerous inquiries after the ‘young one,’ by the Muslin Company† [† A cant phrase for – ladies].
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 5: Bit of muslin – a flame, a sweetheart.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Scamps of London I iii: That little bit of muslin of yours, think of her!
[UK] ‘The Cadger’s Ball’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 148: To Mother Swankey’s snoozing-crib; / Each downey cadger was seen taking / His bit of muslin, or his rib.
[UK]Paul Pry (London) 15 Aug. n.p.: He saw in thevdistance a piece of muslin which he fancied would be just the thing.
[UK]Berks. Chron. 8 Aug. 6/4: He certainly apears to be the ladies ‘pet man’, and is always to be seen with a ‘bit of muslin’ on the box-seat.
[UK]E. Yates Broken to Harness III 57: The very copying-clerk [...] had been seen to wink his eye, and heard to mention some such article as ‘a bit of muslin’.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]H. Smart Post to Finish II 20: One thing more: take my advice, and keep clear of muslin for the next six or seven years.
[UK]H. King Savage London 43: So this is yer missis [...] as yer’ve been a-hidin’ of under a skylight. She’s onny a poor bit of muslin.
[UK] ‘’Arry in Venice’ in Punch 27 May 88/3: And a pootier young mossel o’ muslin, I never ’ad perch on my knee.
[Aus]W.T. Goodge ‘Great Aus. Slanguage’ in Baker Aus. Lang. (1945) 117: And his ladylove’s his donah, / Or his clinah or his tart, / Or his little bit o’ muslin, / As it used to be his bart.
[UK]Sporting Times 27 Jan. 1/2: Of course [...] like most fellows I had one or two little bits of muslin outdoors, and frequently didn’t get home till three in the morning.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 Aug. 14/4: There was a conspicuous instance of it on the Block t’other day, when a big-shouldered soldier and a rather narrow-chested dandy walked on either side of a sprightly ‘bit-of-muslin.’ This consequential Miss has all eyes for the narrow youth, and left the ‘hero’ unregarded by her side.
[US]A. Irvine My Lady of the Chimney Corner 185: Yer Ma was a piece ov fine linen frum th’ day she walked down this road wi’ yer Dah till this minit whin she’s waitin’ fur ye in the corner.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 Aug. 47/1: Yet this muslin was as nice a bit of goods as you could fancy.
[UK]Hargreaves & Godfrey [perf. Ella Shields] Oh, the baa-baa-baa lambs [lyrics] But let a piece of muslim pass, then he'll reverse his cards / Forget his gout and beat all records for a hundred yards.
[Aus]G.H. Lawson Dict. of Aus. Words And Terms [Internet] MUSLIN, BIT OF — A woman.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 280: He’s only a little sawn-off runt but he knows a few nice little bits of muslin.
bit of old (n.)

sexual intercourse.

[UK]K. Sampson Awaydays 164: I’d already binned the Midnight Mass for a bit of Old.
bit of raspberry (n.)

an attractive woman.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 30/2: Bit o’ raspberry (Street, 1883). An attractive girl. When ‘jam’ came to be used to describe a girl, the original double intendre suggested by a comic song having become known — raspberry, as the most flavoursome of conserves, was used to describe a very pretty creature. Then the jam was dropped and the ‘bit o’’ affixed, and this phrase became classic.
bit of red (n.) [as opposed to a bit of brown n. (3)]

heterosexual intercourse.

[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) VI 1151: ‘Are you fond of a bit of brown?’ — he asked — I did not understand and he explained. — ‘We always say a bit of brown among ourselves, and a cunt’s a bit of red.’.
bit of skin (n.)

a woman, a girlfriend; in homosexual context, a young man.

[UK]‘J.H. Ross’ Mint (1955) 49: Some fellows picked up their ‘bits of skin’ even at the camp gates.
[UK]T. McClenaghan Submariners I iii: He’s a tasty bit of skin, eh, sir?
bit of this and that (n.) [euph.]

(N.Z.) sexual intercourse.

[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 131: Karen was a bit of a philanderer, and wasn’t above copping a bit of this and that on the quiet.
bit on a fork (n.) (also bit on a finger) [pun on SE fork, crotch]

the vagina.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]B. Aldiss Hand-Reared Boy 125: You must at least have had a bit on a finger from her.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 185: The anatomical relationship of the bower of bliss and its main channel is indicated in such phrases as the [...] lower mouth, the upright grin (except, traditionally, in China), a bit on a fork.
break a bit off (v.) [? the equation of sex and violence]

to have sexual intercourse; the idea that the erect penis ‘breaks’ following orgasm.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 132/1: C.20.
do a bit (v.)

1. to have sexual intercourse; thus do a bit of... in all the combs. that follow.

[UK]J. Braine Room at the Top (1959) 114: Aren’t you doing a bit for her?

2. see also prison phrs. below.

fancy bit (n.) (also fancy, fancy article)

the vagina; thus a young woman.

[UK]Wandring Whore I 13: Catching hold of his trap-stick, she [...] taught the unskilful rustic to loose his maiden-head by guiding him to her fancy.
[UK] ‘The Lass of Lynn’s New Joy’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) I 467: At which he began to Roar, / Your Fancy it has been Itching.
[Ire]Tom And Jerry; Musical Extravaganza I ii: Oh ho! I have caught you, Jerry, on the sly, with your fancy article.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 55: ‘A colt’s tooth in her head ’ — is said of a woman in years who retains the lechery of youth. Men show their colt’s teeth, too [...] and imagine they have a notion to taste a fancy bit, which often turns out mere ‘vanity and vexation of spirit.’.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. 10 July [Internet] Old Georg was carrying on with a floozie in her fifties, and has now moved into a house nearby with his fancy bit.
fresh bit (n.) (also fresh girl)

a sexually inexperienced woman; a new mistress.

[UK]London-Bawd (1705) 5: When he makes her a Visit, She always help him to a fresh Bit.
[UK]W.H. Stead ‘Confessions of a Brothel-Keeper’ in Pall Mall Gazette in Metropolitan Poor III 11: Maids as you call them—fresh girls as we know them in the trade—are constantly in request.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
get a bit (v.)

to have sexual intercourse.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
[US] in Randolph & Legman Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (1992) I 160: When I was young and in my prime, / I could get a piece of cock any time, / But now I’m old, my balls are cold, / I can’t get a bit to save my soul.
[US](con. c.1896) in Randolph & Legman Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (1992) II 613: I ain’t had none, can’t get a bit, / If I got a little, I ’spect I’d shit.
[US]R. Abrahams Deep Down In The Jungle 71: Now you come by here when me and my wife trying to get a little bit.
[UK]P. Willmott Adolescent Boys of East London (1969) 56: You can always get a bit if you want it, with the girls with the big mouths.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 165: Everytime me and my old lady be tryin’ to get a little bit, / here you come down through the jungle with that ‘Hi ho’ shit.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 181: He told me to look after her while he’s inside. You know, see she gets a bit.
have a bit (v.)

to have sexual intercourse.

[UK] Cooper of Norfolk in Pepys Ballads (1987) I 537: Cannot a good wife have a bit now and then, / But there must be notice taken by the good man.
[UK] ‘The Chaffing Family’ in Nobby Songster 13: And he return chaff my mother, – for she: – / Has a bit on the sly, with the milkman you see.
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) VI 1256: They were not ‘whures’ even if they had a bit on the sly.
[Aus]R.S. Close Love me Sailor 21: Hey, Duke, you’ve been with one of them! Don’t these society dames have a bit when they get that way?

Pertaining to money

In compounds

bit faker (n.) [faker n. (2)]

(UK Und.) a coiner, a counterfeiter; thus bit-faking, counterfeiting, coining.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 227: bit-faker a coiner [...] bit-faking coining base money.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 6: bit-faker, or turner-out a coiner of bad money.
[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 88: Coiners of bad money – bit-fakers.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]‘Some Varieties of Thieves’ in Star (London) 23 Feb. 4/2: An accomplished magsman [...] would never hope to succeed as a bit-faker, or maker of bad money.
[UK]C. Whibley ‘Vaux’ A Book of Scoundrels 186: At the moment of his arrest he was on his way to purchase base coin from a Whitechapel bit-faker.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Life and Death at the Old Bailey 63: The following crook’s words and phrases date from the days of the old Old Bailey: [...] coiner of bad money – turner-out or bit-faker.
bit house (n.)

(US) a cheap tavern, charging one bit per drink.

[US]D. Corcoran Pickings from N.O. Picayune 154: I always goes it in the bit houses – doggeries ain’t genteel.
[US]‘Dan de Quille’ Big Bonanza (1947) 268: The majority of these saloons are what are called ‘bit houses’; that is, drinks of all kinds and cigars are one bit – twelve and one half cents.
[US]Idaho Semi-wkly World (ID) 21 Apr. 4/3: It became necessary for me to establish here a ‘Bit-House’, being fully convinced that paying two bits for drinks [...] must be abolished.

In phrases

four-bit (n.)

(W.I.) one shilling and sixpence, post-1969 value 15 cents.

[WI]L. Bennett ‘When Trouble Teck Man’ in Jamaica Dialect Verses 38: She noh gat hoh wey fe sleep an’ ongle / Four-bit eena har purse.
[WI]Bennett, Clarke & Wilson Anancy Stories and Dialect Verse 81: Him give me one cockeye fourbit / Me take it me buy one silk dress.
[WI] (ref. to 1940s) L. Bennett Jamaica Labrish 222: four-bit. one shilling and six pence.
four-bit (adj.)

low-class, insignificant.

[US]Wash. Herald (DC) 19 June 37/1: Cecil, the shoe clerk, who lolls over there, resembles Paul Swann in his four-bit affair.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 172: He always sleeps in a four-bit bed and washes his own socks and shirt in the flop house wash-bowls.
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 254: ‘Who stinks, you four-bit whore?’ he shouted.
four bits (n.)

1. (US) 50 cents.

[US]‘Edmund Kirke’ My Southern Friends 49: The latter region [...] was absolutely packed with thirsty natives imbibing certain fluids known at the South as ‘blue ruin,’ ‘bust-head,’ [...] and ‘devil’s dye,’ at the rate of a ‘bit’ a glass, and four ‘bits’ for ‘as much as a man could tote’.
[UK]W.A. Baillie-Grohman Camps in the Rockies 62: I would donate you them ar’ four bits (fifty cents) to buy yourself one.
[US]S.E. White Arizona Nights 24: Cost you four bits to water them hosses.
[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 226: ‘Four bits deposit,’ said the landlady, ‘on all keys.’.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 29: Mister, will you bet 4-bits for me?
[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 362: ‘If l give you this four bits,’ I says, ‘will you promise not to get away with forty-nine cents of it between here and the altar?’.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald ‘The Jelly Bean’ in Bodley Head Scott Fitzgerald V (1963) 212: My four bits is in the ring.
[US] ‘Gila Monster Route’ in N. Anderson Hobo 195: They had mooched the stem and threw their feet, / And speared four bits on which to eat.
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 16: Four bits and a nickel for the shine.
[US]M. Beckwith Black Roadways 49: The following names [...] still in use today: Bit, 4 1/2d. or 9 cents. Four bits, 1s. 6d. or 36 cents. Mac-and-thruppence, 1s. 3d. or 30 cents. Quattie, 1 1/2d. or 3 cents. Gill, 3 farthings or 11/2 cents.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.
[US]N. Algren Never Come Morning (1988) 8: For other guys it’s four bits all summer ’n sixty on Saturday.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 113: They’d rather make four bits and crack somebody’s skull than make a legitimate buck.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Kerouac On the Road (The Orig. Scroll) (2007) 374: He wants to win the game, he’s bet four bits.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 164: We only got eighty cents between us [...] I loan him four bits, we wouldnt have enough to go to the show.
[UK]I, Mobster 8: The poor broken-down whores that hung out on the corner [...] looking to make four bits for a flop.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 40: I had only four bits.
[US](con. 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 27: The man slapped another four bits on the counter.
[US]E. Thompson Caldo Largo (1980) 72: Four bits a crack, Pete, no matter what tricks you develop.
[US](con. 1940s) C. Bram Hold Tight (1990) 8: He’d paid his four bits.
[US]B. Gifford Night People 130: Ain’t ever’body afford a extra four bits.

2. see also prison phrs. below.

get a bit (v.) (also get one’s bit)

to obtain money; thus n. one who solicits loans/hand-outs.

[Ire] ‘The Night Before Larry Was Stretched’ Dublin Comic Songster 186: It’s only what gownsmen invented, / To get a fat bit for themselves.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 22 Oct. 8/1: ‘Kerristian’ folk, we must admit, / Have merely these ambitions – / By hook or crook to ‘get a bit’ / And die in good positions.
[UK]J. Runciman Chequers 7: He knew many ‘certainties,’ and he offered [...] to put me in the way of ‘gittin’ a bit’.
[UK]Sporting Times 15 Feb. 5/5: ‘Why did you go there? For your health?’ ‘No, I went to get a bit.’.
[UK]Sporting Times 22 Feb. 3/1: A (now) well-known bookmakers was ‘getting his bit’ in the ‘outside’ rings.
[UK]Sporting Times 18 Mar. 1/1: Russia has been at the financiers to get her a bit.
Daehan Dly News (Seoul) n.d. 569/4: It is rather rough on the bald-headed Crimean Orphan that he should be treated as an ‘ankle-biter’ and a ‘get-a-bit’ when be endeavours to tronser a trifle on account from the funds of this carefully administered charity.
get/have a bit on (v.)

to make a bet, to wager money on.

[UK]Standard 23 Oct. n.p.: Everyone... had something on [F&H].
[UK]Sporting Times 22 Mar. 1/2: The Albert Club was besieged by a seething mob of howlers anxious to have a bit on the coincidence.
[UK]G. Moore Esther Waters 15: Pity you weren’t there; might have had a bit on.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Out for the Day and In for the Night’ Sporting Times 9 June 1/4: As a tart well equipped male affections to charge / You’d have had a bit on.
[UK]Sporting Times 9 May 1/2: There’s a tip for you. We must certainly have a bit on that!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Oct. 30/3: You can cover yourself against loss through strikes, suffragettes, civil war, lightning and meteorites; and you can ‘have a bit’ on the life of the King or Prime Minister or on the postponement of a street procession.
long bit (n.)

1. (US) 12 ½ or 15 cents, in contrast to a dime or short bit

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 5: In America [...] a defaced 20 cent piece is termed a ‘long bit’.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. [as cit. 1859].
[US]‘Dan de Quille’ Big Bonanza (1947) 260: The smallest coin in use is the bit, or ten-cent piece, – sometimes spoken of as a ‘short bit,’ as not being twelve and one half cents, the ‘long bit’.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]Ade Old-Time Saloon 76: ‘Bit’ means twelve and one-half cents. ‘The long bit’ was fifteen cents and the ‘short bit’ was a dime.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl. 51: long bit. Fifteen cents or dollars.

2. see also prison phrs. below.

short bit (n.)

1. (US) 10 cents, in contrast to 12 ½ or 15 cents, a long bit

[US]‘Dan de Quille’ Big Bonanza (1947) 260: The smallest coin in use is the bit, or ten-cent piece, – sometimes spoken of as a ‘short bit,’ as not being twelve and one half cents, the ‘long bit’.
[US]F.H. Carruth Voyage of the Rattletrap 142: He tossed out a quarter and said, ‘Two bits,’ and a dime and said, ‘Short bit—thank you.’.
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘A Word List From Montana’ in DN IV:iii 245: short bit, n. Ten cents. ‘Gave two short bits for that.’.
[US]Ade Old-Time Saloon 76: ‘Bit’ means twelve and one-half cents. ‘The long bit’ was fifteen cents and the ‘short bit’ was a dime.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl. 66: short bit. Ten cents or dollars.
[US]J.A. McKenna Black Range Tales 196: The brewery where a schooner of beer could be had for a short bit [DA].

2. see also prison phrs. below.

six-bit (adj.)

(US) cheap, worth 75 cents, e.g. a six-bit sandwich.

[US]Wash. Post 21 Jan. 2/7: Six-bit flop – A 75 cent bed.
six bits (n.)

1. (US) 75 cents.

[US]Jamestown (N.Y.) Journal 12 Aug. 3/4: If he grumbles, we’ll give him six bits [DA].
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Tom Sawyer 193: I ain’t going to throw off on di’monds. [...] there ain’t any, hardly, but’s worth six bits or a dollar.
[UK]M. Roberts Western Avernus (1924) 217: I’ve only got seven dollars and six bits.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 107: We [...] got out with [...] our six bits intact. At about two o’clock in the morning the seventy-five cents was gone.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 60: The Fleet Committee who today refused to send Mutt an invitation [...] unless the plunger comes through with the six bits.
[US]W.M. Raine Brand Blotters (1912) 50: As for yo’ six bits, if you offer it to me I’ll take it as an insult.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Champion’ in Coll. Short Stories (1941) 111: ‘I ain’t only got six bits,’ said Happy.
[US]C. Sandburg ‘Snow’ in Smoke and Steel 206: Six bits for a sniff of snow.
[US](con. 1910s) J.T. Farrell Young Lonigan in Studs Lonigan (1936) 12: The bill was more than their six bits.
[US]H. McCoy They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? in Four Novels (1983) 15: ‘How much?’ [...] ‘Feels like about six bits.’.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 101: He’d spent over two dollars to win a four-dollar pot and had six bits of it in front of him.
[US] in Randolph & Legman Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (1992) I 149: She went to town to become a whore, / And stuck a sign upon her door: / A dollar down, six bits will do, / To take a crack at my ring-ding-do.
[US]J. Crumley One to Count Cadence (1987) 35: What you need is a seventy-five cent love affair [...] Six bits. No nookie.

2. (US Und.) $75.00.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

Pertaining to prison sentences

In phrases

big bit (n.)

(US Und.) a long prison sentence.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 26/2: Big bit. 1. A long prison term.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water 4: It didn’t seem to be the guys with big bits, though, it was the floaters, the guys with thirty and sixty days.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) H. Huncke ‘Johnnie I’ in Eve. Sun Turned Crimson (1998) 119: I heard – indirectly – that he is serving a big bit in Michigan State Prison.
do a/one’s bit (v.)

(US prison) to serve a prison sentence.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 107/1: We ‘dun’ a ‘bit’ in wun ov theeir blarsted ’oyle’s, an’ I’ll goa tu ’ell iv I wudn’t du a ‘stretch’ in wun ov our English ‘sturs’ sooner thaus dur a ‘drag’ in a starvin’, louzy, an’ itchy Scotch prison!
[UK]Temple Bar xxvi 75: The next bit I did was a sixer [F&H].
[UK]A. Griffiths Chronicles of Newgate 520: All three after recapture passed on [...] to Leicester, where they did their ‘bit’ (i.e. sentence) and were released.
[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 99: Those Britishers know how to punish, let me tell you that. If we punished guns in this country the way they do we wouldn’t have so many of ’em. I know, ’cause I’ve done bits in both countries.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 37: There ain’t nuthin’ in God’s green world that’s worth doing a ‘bit’ for.
[UK]E. Pugh City Of The World 258: It was after I had done my bit.
[US]Wash. Post 11 Nov. Miscellany 3/6: A short termer does a ‘bit’ and a long termer a ‘stretch.’.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 397: Bit. Prison term. To do a bit. Handed a bit.
[US]W. Edge Main Stem 121: Helped me brudder wen he wuz doin’ ’is bit.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 41: You’ve done a bit in stir.
[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 190: A cannon of long standing was doing a bit when his mother died and he could not attend the funeral.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 44: Now I [...] had done two bits in the pen, I got more respect from the gang.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 59/2: Do a bit. To serve a prison or jail sentence. ‘After I do this bit I’m beating it out of this State.’.
[US]R. Prather Always Leave ’Em Dying 156: There’d been a flurry and a holler and I’d had to do a bit in the clink, but I’d done it standing on my head, since only a few of the charges, like fomenting a riot and disturbing the peace and puncturing seventeen sets of automobile tyres, had stuck.
[US]Murtagh & Harris Who Live In Shadow (1960) 21: I did bits in every rinky-dink pen in town.
[US]J. Mills Panic in Needle Park (1971) 21: He had done twenty bits in jail for a total of nine years.
[UK]G.F. Newman Villain’s Tale 8: ‘That means I’ll have to go on the trot.’ ‘Might not be a bad idea, I tell you.’ ‘T’rific. My missus and kids would love that. I might as well be doing a bit.’.
[US]N. Pileggi Wiseguy (2001) 117: I was getting ready to do a sixty-day bit on Riker’s Island.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 99: Tough guy did a bit on Trahan’s farm got out a month ago.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 72: After ‘doing a bit’ in this very prison, Kansas likes to say he ‘caught a P.V.’ or ‘caught a new case’ while on parole in Las Vegas.
flat bit (n.) (also flat time) [SE flat, complete, utter]

(US Und.) a sentence served with no remission for good behaviour.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 71/1: Flat bit. (P) A determinate prison sentence.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 20: Flat Bit A prison sentence that is fully served with no time off for good behavior. [Ibid.] 26: Flat Time A defendant sentenced to flat time must serve every day of the imposed sentence before being released.
[US]Prison Slang Mommyblogger mydogharriet.blogspot.com 26 Sept. [Internet] If your little cell warrior continues to bug out, tell her in a firm voice that she needs to stay dead mouthed until she gives you a dime of flat time.
four bits (n.)

1. (US prison) a 50-year prison sentence.

[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 204: four bits, n. – a fifty- year sentence.

2. see also money phrs. above.

long bit (n.)

1. (US Und.) a sentence of ten years or more.

[US]J. Hawthorne Confessions of Convict 40: ‘Long-bit’ cons and lifers are, as a rule, perfectly content to die.
[US]H. Hapgood Types From City Streets 317: My long bit in stir had ruined my eyesight.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 117: The last thing he said to me, when I went off to do my long-bit, was, ‘May, don’t complain about anything, or they will land you in Broadmoor’ (the insane asylum).
[US]G.V. Higgins Patriot Game (1985) 52: You think these guys with long bits to do’re calling this little song and dance ‘rehabilitation’?
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 21: Long Bit A long prison sentence, usually longer than ten years.

2. any term of imprisonment over 38 months that must be completed before the prisoner’s becoming eligible for parole.

[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].

3. see also money phrs. above.

pull one’s bit (v.) [SE pull through]

(US prison) to survive one’s sentence.

[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 48: I [...] wondered if he could pull his bit or if he would go back to his parents in a pine box.
short bit (n.)

1. a short prison sentence.

[US]Wash. Post 15 Mar. Misc. 1/5: A ‘peetman’ is a safeblower, and when he blows a safe he ‘cracks a joint.’ If he is caught and taken to the station in the ‘paddy wagon’ he may be given ‘six months in the buck’ or a ‘long bit’ or a ‘short bit.’.
[US]Flynn’s Weekly 4 Feb. 436/1: Big Bill Douglas was enjoying a year’s vacation from his usual haunts up at Sing Sing at the expense of the State. To his underworld associates he was doing a short bit in the Big House, or a one time loser.
[US]C. Coe Hooch! 80: Dutch is doin’ a short bit on a guilty plea.
[US]J. Breslin World of Jimmy Breslin (1968) 32: He is doing a short bit in Attica for poor usage of a gun.

2. see also money phrs. above.

soft bit (n.) (also soft time) [soft adj. (4) + time n. (1)]

(US Und.) a system of imprisonment whereby an inmate must serve 50% of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 60/2: Do soft time. (P) To serve a prison term under very easy conditions. [Ibid.] 201/2: Soft bit. (P) A prison sentence capable of being served with a minimum of discomfort.
[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 16: They [...] boasted of their time in jail. Hard time and easy, wall time and farm time, fed time and state, city time, county time, short time and good time, soft time and jawbone time, big house, little house and middle house time, industrial time and meritorious time — ‘that’s for working your ass off’.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 29: Soft Time A sentencing system under which an inmate must serve one-half the imposed sentence before being eligible for parole (Archaic: soft bit).
split bit (n.)

(US Und.) an indeterminate sentence in prison, subject to the decisions of the parole board.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 203/1: Split bit. An indeterminate prison sentence, subject to the arbitrary decision of the parole board.
[US]M. Braly False Starts 197: I had hoped for a three-split, eighteen months in and eighteen months out [...] Five-split was an average sentence for the time.
telephone number bit (n.)

(US prison) a sentence of 20 years-plus, but not a life sentence.

[US]G. Milburn ‘Convicts’ Jargon’ in AS VI:6 441: telephone number bit, n. A prison sentence of more than twenty years, but less than a life sentence.

Other senses

In phrases

do a bit (v.)

1. see under do v.1

2. see also sex phrs. above.

3. see also prison phrs. above.

whole bit (n.)

everything; usu. in abstract senses, e.g. one’s attitude, personality, or way of life; all aspects of a situiation.

[US]L. Block Diet of Treacle (2008) 108: And where was the whole bit headed? Where in the world were Anita and you going.
[US]K. Kolb Getting Straight 61: The whole bit. Suburbia. The picture-window view of the neighbors’ adultery.
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 41: the whole bit – Everything [...] the entirety of the scene and, of course, everyone on the scene.
[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 88: I get a mental makeup on her Momma, her Daddy, who treated her bad [...] the whole bit.
[US]C. McFadden Serial 45: He thought about Marlene and that whole bit.
[US]R.P. McNamara Times Square Hustler 48: When I came out [...] I used to wear the spike heels, the dress, the wig: the whole bit.
[US]N. Stephenson Cryptonomicon 899: He’s been on the horn to his huffduff people, the Air Force, the whole bit.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

bit of (a) (n.)

see separate entry.

bit of all right, a (phr.)

see separate entry.

bit of blood (n.) [SE bit + blood, pedigree]

1. a spirited, mettlesome horse.

[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. III 71/1: A bit of blood! and well may they be termed so, for neither flesh nor bone have they to boast of.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Jan. III 223/1: The black poney was one of those shuffling bits of blood, which are commonly the property of butchers.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 10: C-NN-G came in on a job, and then canter’d about / On a showy, but hot and unsound, bit of blood.
[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 131: His prime bit of blood was crossed [i.e. mounted] without delay.
[UK]Egan Anecdotes of the Turf, the Chase etc. 2: Let us [...] see which has the best bit of blood.
[UK]‘Alfred Crowquill’ Seymour’s Humourous Sketches (1866) 159: [He was] mounted on a roadster — his ‘bit ’o blood’ had been sent forward .
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 8 Apr. 3/1: A fair trial olf the racing qualities of their bits of blood.
[UK]Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit (1995) 562: Not that we slacken in our pace the while, not we; we rather put the bits of blood upon their mettle.
[UK]Liverpool Mercury 2 Dec. 3/1: A thief in cant language would term a horse a ‘prancer’ or a ‘prad’ while in slang a man of fashion would speak of it as a ‘bit of blood’ or a ‘spanker’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 19 Feb. 3/8: Your Honor, we don’t want to preach, / We love a ‘bit of blood’, / But Bookie bag and Lawyer Leech, / Are cannibals both, M’Lud!

2. a dandy.

[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 89: The soi-disantbit of blood,’ whose ideas of taste and elegance drove everything out of his head.
[UK]Sam Sly 30 Dec. 3/3: Those ‘bits of blood,’ the N—ns, are prominent personages; but SAM delicately informs them that there are some in the room who, clever as they are, have forgotten more than they ever learned.

3. a joke (as carried out on a social inferior).

[UK]Paul Pry 26 Feb. n.p.: [A] a lord of the manor is, generally speaking, a piece of sublime stupidity [...] He will kick a country lad out of his way, perhaps, and thinks such an attack is doing a ‘bit of blood’.
bit of corn (n.)

(Aus. Und.) prison food, thus time in prison.

[Aus]J. Alard He who Shoots Last 3: ‘Don’t mind a bit of corn myself. Look like doin a drag wen I front tomorrow,’ was the boastful reply.
bit of fat (n.) [SE fat, of a profitable occupation]

an unexpected advantage.

[UK]G.A. Sala Gaslight and Daylight 20: Discoursing especially of the immense number of ‘bits of fat’ for him (Clown) in the pantomime.
[UK]Bury Free Press 31 Dec. 4/4: The kid executed an excited pirouette in the slushy street. ‘My word,’ she said, ’that’s a bit of fat, ain’t it mother?’.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 19: Blimey, that was a bit of fat for you, wasn’t it?
bit of goods (n.)

see separate entry.

bit of grey (n.) [SE grey (hair); note 1990s business jargon grey matter, an older person recruited to a young firm to give it some gravitas]

an elderly person who is recruited to attend weddings or funerals and by their presence add a degree of solemnity to the proceedings.

[UK] ‘Society Novel’ in Ware (1909) 31/1: No stir-up for me without my bits of grey. They give tone to the whole thing.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
bit of heliotrope (n.)

(Aus.) a girlfriend.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Dec. 36/2: My little bit o’ heliotrope use ter break me up that way once, but I tumbled to a thing or two.
bit of hollow (n.)

an item of poultry, e.g. a duck, a turkey.

[UK]Vidocq Memoirs (trans. W. McGinn) III 95: ‘What did you give for this bit of hollow?’ ‘Seven bob, a kick, and eight mag’.
bit of mess (n.) [? affectionate nickname]

(UK Und.) a prostitute’s male lover, who is neither ponce nor client.

[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 174: Bit of mess Prostitute’s male lover who is neither her ponce nor a paying client. A completely non-commercial relationship, but not the same as a ‘tin soldier’.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
bit of no good (n.)

a good deal of harm; usu. in phr. do oneself a bit of no good.

[UK]Wodehouse Mating Season 99: She was in the process of doing the local green-fly a bit of no good.
bit of nonsense (n.)

1. (UK society) a mistress.

[UK]N. Marsh Final Curtain (1958) 29: She’s the Old Person’s little bit of nonsense. Immensely decorative.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn).

2. any form of villainy, esp. when easily accomplished.

[UK]J. Barlow Burden of Proof 43: ‘A nice bit of nonsense,’ commented Louis, meaning a piece of villainy that had all the makings of a walk-over.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn).
bit of pooh (n.)

see separate entry.

bit of rough (n.)

see separate entries.

bit of scarlet (n.) [? the use of the word bloody adj.]

an oath.

[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 98: He do like a bit of scarlet [...] You might a’most see to go to bed by Phil’s swearing, it’s so blazing powerful.
bit of Spanish (n.) [? use of long, dark Spanish tresses in wigs]

(UK Und.) a natural wig, made from human rather than animal hair.

[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 13: Their next Design was to provide themselves with good handsome pick-pocket natural Wigs, which they call Bits of Spanish.
bit of stuff (n.)

see separate entry.

bit on the side (n.) [on the side under side n.]

1. an affair; a lover other than one’s regular partner .

[UK]Oz 1 8/1: Of course it doesn’t stop us enjoying a bit on the side.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Outcasts of Foolgarah (1975) 86: I liked a bit on the side.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Go West Young Man’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] It’s a birthday present for my bit on the side.
[UK]Guardian 6 Dec. 8: ‘The stunning Brazilian supermodel’ or, as you may know her better, Mick Jagger’s bit on the side.
[SA]K. Cage Gayle.

2. an act of sexual intercourse with someone other than your partner.

[Aus](con. WWII) E. Lambert Long White Night 87: So your old man got a bit on the side in the first war, and you’re the result.
[Aus]A. Weller Day of the Dog 54: You better not be givin’ that ole bunji man a bit on the side when the Pretty Boy’s not ’ere.
bit to go with (n.) [? parting comment, ‘Here’s a bit to go with’]

(orig. US) generosity.

[UK]Referee 20 Feb. in Ware (1909) 31/1: An American railway train can give most things in this world a bit to go with in the way of noise.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
give one’s bit (v.)

(Aus.) to do anything in one’s power.

[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 55: There’s er little tom in this flat who’d give er bit t’ have you hers fer keeps.
have a bit of someone (v.)

(Aus.) to assault; to fight with.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Dec. 40/4: Wot’s all this about any’ow? Out with it, quick, before I ’ave a bit of you.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 7 Oct. 205/5: I’ll ’ave a bit of you, yer big, frog-eatin’ dago! I’ll show you who won the plurry war.
have a bit on (v.) (also have a bit in) [SE bit (to drink)]

to be drunk.

[UK]J. Keane On Blue Water 189: Those who came aboard ‘'a bit on’ had done so much work by this time, that the liquor they had aboard was pretty well dead in them by the time we had cleared out the deck-house.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Coonardoo 157: Gins work out better in this country. They don’t rowse, and you know where you are with ‘em. They know where you are when you’ve got a bit in.
[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight 226: [...] in difficulty, in liquor, in the altitudes, dogged, mashed, off, off his nut or, out of funds, a bit on.
in bits over (adj.)

obsessed with.

[UK]K. Sampson Awaydays 158: Both Natasha and Emily are in bits over me.