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a removable drilling or boring tool for use in a brace, drill press, or the like.
a removable boring head used on certain kinds of drills, as a rock drill.
a device for drilling oil wells or the like, consisting of a horizontally rotating blade or an assembly of rotating toothed wheels.

the mouthpiece of a bridle, having fittings at each end to which the reins are fastened.
anything that curbs or restrains.
the blade or iron of a carpenter’s plane.
the cutting part of an ax or hatchet.
the wide portion at the end of an ordinary key that moves the bolt.
to put a bit in the mouth of (a horse).
to curb or restrain with, or as with, a bit.
to grind a bit on (a key).
take the bit in / between one’s teeth, to cast off control; willfully go one’s own way:
He took the bit in his teeth and acted against his parents’ wishes.
a small piece or quantity of anything:
a bit of string.
a short time:
Wait a bit.
Informal. an amount equivalent to 12½ U.S. cents (used only in even multiples):
two bits; six bits.
an act, performance, or routine:
She’s doing the Camille bit, pretending to be near collapse.
a stereotypic or habitual set of behaviors, attitudes, or styles associated with an individual, role, situation, etc.:
the whole Wall Street bit.
Also called bit part. a very small role, as in a play or motion picture, containing few or no lines.
Compare walk-on (def 1).
any small coin:
a threepenny bit.
a Spanish or Mexican silver real worth 12½ cents, formerly current in parts of the U.S.
a bit, rather or somewhat; a little:
a bit sleepy.
a bit much, somewhat overdone or beyond tolerability.
bit by bit, by degrees; gradually:
Having saved money bit by bit, they now had enough to buy the land.
do one’s bit, to contribute one’s share to an effort:
They all did their bit during the war.
every bit, quite; just:
every bit as good.
quite a bit, a fairly large amount:
There’s quite a bit of snow on the ground.
Also called binary digit. a single, basic unit of information, used in connection with computers and information theory.
simple past tense and a past participle of bite.
Bachelor of Industrial Technology.
to cut, wound, or tear with the teeth:
She bit the apple greedily. The lion bit his trainer.
to grip or hold with the teeth:
Stop biting your lip!
to sting, as does an insect.
to cause to smart or sting:
an icy wind that bit our faces.
to sever with the teeth (often followed by off):
Don’t bite your nails. The child bit off a large piece of the candy bar.
to start to eat (often followed by into):
She bit into her steak.
to clamp the teeth firmly on or around (often followed by on):
He bit hard on the stick while they removed the bullet from his leg.

to take advantage of; cheat; deceive:
I got bitten in a mail-order swindle.
to annoy or upset; anger:
What’s biting you, sorehead?

to eat into or corrode, as does an acid.
to cut or pierce with, or as with, a weapon:
The sword split his helmet and bit him fatally.
Etching. to etch with acid (a copper or other surface) in such parts as are left bare of a protective coating.
to take firm hold or act effectively on:
We need a clamp to bite the wood while the glue dries.
Archaic. to make a decided impression on; affect.
to press the teeth into something; attack with the jaws, bill, sting, etc.; snap:
Does your parrot bite?
Angling. (of fish) to take bait:
The fish aren’t biting today.
to accept an offer or suggestion, especially one intended to trick or deceive:
I knew it was a mistake, but I bit anyway.
Informal. to admit defeat in guessing:
I’ll bite, who is it?
to act effectively; grip; hold:
This wood is so dry the screws don’t bite.
Slang. to be notably repellent, disappointing, poor, etc.; suck.
an act of biting.
a wound made by biting:
a deep bite.
a cutting, stinging, or nipping effect:
the bite of an icy wind; the bite of whiskey on the tongue.
a piece bitten off:
Chew each bite carefully.
a small meal:
Let’s have a bite before the theater.
a portion severed from the whole:
the government’s weekly bite of my paycheck.
a morsel of food:
not a bite to eat.
the occlusion of one’s teeth:
The dentist said I had a good bite.

the catch or hold that one object or one part of a mechanical apparatus has on another.
a surface brought into contact to obtain a hold or grip, as in a lathe chuck or similar device.
the amount of material that a mechanical shovel or the like can carry at one time.

sharpness; incisiveness; effectiveness:
The bite of his story is spoiled by his slovenly style.
the roughness of the surface of a file.
Metalworking. the maximum angle, measured from the center of a roll in a rolling mill, between a perpendicular and a line to the point of contact where a given object to be rolled will enter between the rolls.
bite off more than one can chew, to attempt something that exceeds one’s capacity:
In trying to build a house by himself, he bit off more than he could chew.
bite someone’s head off, to respond with anger or impatience to someone’s question or comment:
He’ll bite your head off if you ask for anything.
bite the bullet. bullet (def 7).
bite the dust. dust (def 21).
bite the hand that feeds one, to repay kindness with malice or injury:
When he berates his boss, he is biting the hand that feeds him.
put the bite on, Slang.

to solicit or attempt to borrow money or something of value from.
to press for money, as in extortion:
They found out about his prison record and began to put the bite on him.

Contemporary Examples

Murdoch’s Nemesis Mike Giglio July 18, 2011
Yes, Pundits, Hillary Has the 2016 Nomination in the Bag Robert Shrum February 17, 2014
Milan Wraps Up Spring 2013 Fashion Week With Armani and Cavalli Showdown Robin Givhan September 23, 2012
July 5: 7 Best Moments from Sunday Talk The Daily Beast Video July 4, 2009
Lena Dunham on ‘SNL’ Review: Very Funny, Very Dunham-y Kevin Fallon March 8, 2014

Historical Examples

The Incomplete Amorist E. Nesbit
The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
One Of Them Charles James Lever
The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
Aunt Rachel David Christie Murray

a small piece, portion, or quantity
a short time or distance
(US & Canadian, informal) the value of an eighth of a dollar: spoken of only in units of two: two bits
any small coin
short for bit part
(informal) way of behaving, esp one intended to create a particular impression: she’s doing the prima donna bit
a bit, rather; somewhat: a bit dreary
a bit of

rather: a bit of a dope
a considerable amount: that must take quite a bit of courage

(Brit, slang) a bit of all right, a bit of crumpet, a bit of stuff, a bit of tail, a sexually attractive woman
bit by bit, gradually
(informal) bit on the side, an extramarital affair
do one’s bit, to make one’s expected contribution
(foll by as) every bit, to the same degree: she was every bit as clever as her brother
not a bit, not a bit of it, not in the slightest; not at all
to bits, completely apart: to fall to bits
a metal mouthpiece, for controlling a horse on a bridle
anything that restrains or curbs
take the bit in one’s teeth, take the bit between one’s teeth, have the bit in one’s teeth, have the bit between one’s teeth

to undertake a task with determination
to rebel against control

a cutting or drilling tool, part, or head in a brace, drill, etc
the blade of a woodworking plane
the part of a pair of pincers designed to grasp an object
the copper end of a soldering iron
the part of a key that engages the levers of a lock
verb (transitive) bits, bitting, bitted
to put a bit in the mouth of (a horse)
to restrain; curb
the past tense and (archaic) past participle of bite
noun (maths, computing)
a single digit of binary notation, represented either by 0 or by 1
the smallest unit of information, indicating the presence or absence of a single feature
a unit of capacity of a computer, consisting of an element of its physical structure capable of being in either of two states, such as a switch with on and off positions, or a microscopic magnet capable of alignment in two directions
verb bites, biting, bit, bitten
to grip, cut off, or tear with or as if with the teeth or jaws
(of animals, insects, etc) to injure by puncturing or tearing (the skin or flesh) with the teeth, fangs, etc, esp as a natural characteristic
(transitive) to cut or penetrate, as with a knife
(of corrosive material such as acid) to eat away or into
to smart or cause to smart; sting: mustard bites the tongue
(intransitive) (angling) (of a fish) to take or attempt to take the bait or lure
to take firm hold of or act effectively upon
to grip or hold (a workpiece) with a tool or chuck
(of a screw, thread, etc) to cut into or grip (an object, material, etc)
(transitive) (informal) to annoy or worry: what’s biting her?
(often passive) (slang) to cheat
(Austral & NZ, slang) (transitive) often foll by for. to ask (for); scrounge from
(informal) bite off more than one can chew, to attempt a task beyond one’s capability
bite the bullet, to face up to (pain, trouble, etc) with fortitude; be stoical
bite someone’s head off, to respond harshly and rudely (to)
bite the dust, See dust (sense 11)
bite the hand that feeds one, to repay kindness with injury or ingratitude
once bitten, twice shy, after an unpleasant experience one is cautious in similar situations
(Austral, slang) put the bite on someone, to ask someone for money
the act of biting
a thing or amount bitten off
a wound, bruise, or sting inflicted by biting
(angling) an attempt by a fish to take the bait or lure
(informal) an incisive or penetrating effect or quality: that’s a question with a bite
a light meal; snack
a cutting, stinging, or smarting sensation
the depth of cut of a machine tool
the grip or hold applied by a tool or chuck to a workpiece
(dentistry) the angle or manner of contact between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed naturally
the surface of a file or rasp with cutting teeth
the corrosive action of acid, as on a metal etching plate


The smallest unit of computer memory. A bit holds one of two possible values, either of the binary digits 0 or 1. The term comes from the phrase binary digit. See Note at byte.

Note: The information in a digital computer is stored in the form of bits.

A prison sentence: Ferrati, whose ”bit” was three to seven years (1860+ Underworld)
(also bit part) A small part in a play or other show (1900s+ Theater)
A display of pretended feeling or an outright imitation; act, shtick: So he does his hurt-puppy-dog bit/ You should see my Jimmy Cagney bit (fr theater)
A person’s particular set of attitudes, reactions, behavior patterns, etc; style; lifestyle; thing: Zen never was my real bit (1950s+ Beat & cool talk)

One’s share of, or the amount of, a sum owed or demanded: We owe ten thousand, so what’s my bite? (1950s+)
A short excerpt or film-clip shown on television news (1980s+)

To accept a deception as truth: She said she was rich, and he bit
To borrow money from; PUT THE BITE ON someone or something: He bit me for six bills and left town/ You think I come here to bite you for money (1920s+ Australian)
To anger; annoy; vex: She wouldn’t tell me what was biting her (1900s+)
(also bite on) To appropriate; steal; take over: to bite a popular expression (1980s+)
suck (1970s+ Teenagers)

binary digit
built in test
built-in test equipment

In addition to the idiom beginning with


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