SE in slang uses
(US Und.) a hospital for the criminally insane.
|Sat. Eve. Post 13 Apr.; list extracted in AS VI:2 (1930) 132: fit house, n. Hospital for criminally insane.‘Chatter of Guns’ in|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
a blow, a punch; thus have a fit in the arm v., to aim a punch or blow.
|Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.|
(US black) a trance.
|Adventures of Jack Dobell 117: How it happened I did not see them sooner, I cannot imagine, unless I had fallen into what the negroes call a ‘fit of the mazes’.|
an extreme loss of emotional control; thus have forty fits v., to lose all control.
|Deephaven 53: I should have forty fits, if I undertook it.|
|‘A Morning Song’ in Chisholm (1951) 113: While, up above, old Laughin’ jack is havin’ forty fits.|
|Child of Norman’s End (1967) 365: Wouldn’t Mother have forty fits if she saw me here?|
1. to become angered by defeat.
|Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 140/2: Get fits (Peoples’). Vae victis – suffer rage from being conquered; impatient under defeat.|
2. to be criticized harshly; to be humiliated.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 30 Aug. 24/4: Melba has been getting ‘fits’ from the critics for her death-scene in ‘La Traviata.’ [...] Melba prefers to take it standing, drawing herself up to full height, and giving the slashing ‘back-fall’ of melodrama.|
1. to inflict a humiliating defeat on, to crush.
|Glance at N.Y. II ii: I go fur Bill Sykesy ’cos he runs wid our merchaine – but he mustn’t come foolin’ round my gal, or I’ll give him fits!|
|Boston Blade 10 June n.p.: Mose and him had a muss, and mose gave him fits, in less than no time.|
|Letters to Young People 141: If a young man should ‘kind o’ shine up to you,’ and you should ‘cotton to him,’ and he should hear you say [...] ‘cut stick,’ or ‘give him particular fits,’ he would pretty certainly ‘evaporate’.|
|Ye Comedie of Errors I i: You black skunk, upon my life I’ll give you fits if you say I’ve a wife.|
|Americanisms 602: To give one fits, or, as emphatic Yankees say, to give one very particular fits, suggests such severe punishment as will produce fits.|
|’Tween Snow and Fire 230: A cheeky nigger? Give him fits, Mister! Knock him into the middle of next week!|
|Boy’s Own Paper 9 Feb. 290: Those [...] scoundrels have stolen about two thousand of our skins, and we mean to give them fits.|
|‘Central Connecticut Word-List’ in DN III:i 9: fits, n. ‘To give one fits‘ is to punish.|
|Sun. Post 17 Aug. 1/2: [picture caption] Getting ready to give Fritz fits. Mermber of well-known regiment [...] during bayonet practice.|
|Notes for Gloss. of Barbadian Dial. 50: To give anyone fits is to annoy or embarrass him; as, The barrister gave the witness fits during his cross examination.|
2. to scold vigorously, to reprimand.
|Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 15 Jan. n.p.: Mrs Sweet [...] gave me fits for old scores, made it all right.|
|Artemus Ward, His Book 115: Mrs. Iago cums in just as Otheller has finished the fowl deed & givs him fits right & left, showin him that he has bin orfully gulled by her miserble cuss of a husband.|
|Texas Cow Boy (1950) 46: He gave me fits for laying a negro out.|
|Boy’s Own Paper 3 June 563: I’m going up to give that chap fits.|
|Sporting Times 13 May 1/1: Admiral Fitz deserves to be given fits for his mischievous article in a German magazine.|
|Partners of Providence 307: The Professor started right in and give us fits about them [DA].|
|Abie the Agent 28 Dec. [synd. cartoon strip] Gee pops give me fits for tellin’ Van’s father I didn’t want that ten thousand beans!|
|Babbitt (1974) 231: I’d just love to, but Ma would give me fits.|
|Barker Ii i: Paw gave me fits fer bein’ out so late.|
3. to reduce to hysterical laughter.
|letter Sept. to ed. of Central News Agency in Evans & Skinner Jack the Ripper (2001) 16-17: I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather apron gave me real fits.|
4. to terrify.
|postcard in Evans & Skinner Jack the Ripper (2001) 60: Say Boss— You seem rare frightened, guess I'd like to give you fits, but can't stop time enough to let you box of toys play copper games with me.|
|DSUE (8th edn) 467: C.20.|
|Lucky You 94: Poor Moffitt—I give him fits. And he’s such a worrier.|
5. to cause pain.
|A Flying Tiger’s Diary (1984) 63: My eyes are giving me fits, conjunctivitis again.29 Dec. in|
to lose all emotional control.
|Eve. World (NY) 18 July 6/2: He comes in here and he throws a fit, and nearly murders us, and then he goes and never even buys a drink.|
|Powers That Prey 24: He jus’ sat down an’ t’rew a fit. Yelled like a stuck pig.|
|Hand-made Fables 180: The Family threw three individual Fits when the Producer showed them his Stack and warned them to get braced for a rattling good Bump.|
|F.O.B. Detroit 32: The lady threw a high-toned conniption fit.|
|Scrambled Yeggs 94: If it was in there, Matthews would let me throw a screaming fit, but I knew damn well he wouldn’t open the thing.|