A bit of my mind,
as “Ill tell him a bit of my mind,” I'll reprove him. Same word as bite,
meaning a piece bitten off, hence a piece generally. (Anglo-Saxon, bitan,
Bit by bit.
A little at a time; piece-meal.
Not a bit,
or Not the least bit.
Not at all; not the least likely. This
may be not a morsel, or not a doit, rap, or sou. “Bit” used to be a
small Jamaica coin. We still talk of a threepenny-bit. Bit,
course, is the substantive of bite,
) of mordre.
(of a horse
). To take the bit in
) his teeth.
To be obstinately self-willed; to make up one's
mind not to yield. When a horse has a mind to run away, he catches the
bit “between his teeth,” and the driver has no longer control over him.
“Mr. X. will not yield. He has taken the bit between his teeth, and
is resolved to carry out his original measure.” —Newspaper
paragraph, April, 1886.
Money. The word is used in the West Indies for a half pistareen
(fivepence). In Jamaica, a bit is worth sixpence, English; in America,
12 1/2 cents; in Ireland, tenpence.
The word is still thieves' slang for money generally, and coiners
are called bit-makers. In English we use the word for a coin
which is a fraction of a unit. Thus, a shilling being a unit, we have a
six-penny bit and threepenny bit (or not in bits but in divers
pieces). So, taking a sovereign for a unit, we had seven-shilling
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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