Green’s Dictionary of Slang

fit n.3

SE in slang uses

In compounds

fit house (n.)

(US Und.) a hospital for the criminally insane.

[US]C.G. Givens ‘Chatter of Guns’ in Sat. Eve. Post 13 Apr.; list extracted in AS VI:2 (1930) 132: fit house, n. Hospital for criminally insane.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

In phrases

fit in the arm (n.) [‘In June 1897 one Tom Kelly was given into custody by a woman for striking her. His defence was that “a fit had seized him in the arm”, and for months afterwards backstreet frequenters called a blow a fit’ (Ware)]]

a blow, a punch; thus have a fit in the arm v., to aim a punch or blow.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
fit of the mazes (n.)

(US black) a trance.

[US]J.C. Duval 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’.
forty fits (n.) [forty adj.1 ]

an extreme loss of emotional control; thus have forty fits v., to lose all control.

[US]S.O. Jewett Deephaven 53: I should have forty fits, if I undertook it.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘A Morning Song’ in Chisholm (1951) 113: While, up above, old Laughin’ jack is havin’ forty fits.
[UK]E. Raymond Child of Norman’s End (1967) 365: Wouldn’t Mother have forty fits if she saw me here?
get fits (v.)

1. to become angered by defeat.

[UK]J. Ware 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.

[Aus]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.
give someone fits (v.) (orig. US)

1. to inflict a humiliating defeat on, to crush.

[US]A. Greene 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!
[US]Boston Blade 10 June n.p.: Mose and him had a muss, and mose gave him fits, in less than no time.
[US]‘Timothy Titcomb’ 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’.
[UK]J. Poole Ye Comedie of Errors I i: You black skunk, upon my life I’ll give you fits if you say I’ve a wife.
[US]Schele De Vere 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.
[UK]B. Mitford ’Tween Snow and Fire 230: A cheeky nigger? Give him fits, Mister! Knock him into the middle of next week!
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 9 Feb. 290: Those [...] scoundrels have stolen about two thousand of our skins, and we mean to give them fits.
[US] ‘Central Connecticut Word-List’ in DN III:i 9: fits, n. ‘To give one fits‘ is to punish.
[Scot]Sun. Post 17 Aug. 1/2: [picture caption] Getting ready to give Fritz fits. Mermber of well-known regiment [...] during bayonet practice.
[WI]F. Collymore 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.

[US]Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 15 Jan. n.p.: Mrs Sweet [...] gave me fits for old scores, made it all right.
[US]‘Artemus Ward’ 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.
[US]C.A. Siringo Texas Cow Boy (1950) 46: He gave me fits for laying a negro out.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 3 June 563: I’m going up to give that chap fits.
[UK]Sporting Times 13 May 1/1: Admiral Fitz deserves to be given fits for his mischievous article in a German magazine.
C.D. Stewart Partners of Providence 307: The Professor started right in and give us fits about them [DA].
H. Hershfield 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!
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 231: I’d just love to, but Ma would give me fits.
[US]K. Nicholson Barker Ii i: Paw gave me fits fer bein’ out so late.

3. to reduce to hysterical laughter.

‘Jack the Ripper’ 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.

‘Jack the Ripper’ 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.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 467: C.20.
[US]C. Hiaasen Lucky You 94: Poor Moffitt—I give him fits. And he’s such a worrier.

5. to cause pain.

[US]C.R. Bond 29 Dec. in A Flying Tiger’s Diary (1984) 63: My eyes are giving me fits, conjunctivitis again.
throw a fit (v.) (also throw forty fits)

to lose all emotional control.

[US]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.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 24: He jus’ sat down an’ t’rew a fit. Yelled like a stuck pig.
[US]Ade 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.
[US]W. Smitter F.O.B. Detroit 32: The lady threw a high-toned conniption fit.
[US]R. Prather 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.