Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
BIT, n.1, adj. (quasi), adv.1
1. n. Used as in St.Eng. to indicate a small portion of anything, a morsel, a fragment. Special Sc. usages: (1) (a) A small piece of ground, a spot.
Mearns 1890 J. Kerr Reminisc. of a Wanderer I. 103:
Ere lang ye maun flit — I'm thinkin' I'll shortly be gettin' your bit. Lnk. 1934 3 :
A village “natural” once told me he had been at school, and added “But yon's a noisy bit.” Rxb.(D) 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 5:
Yon's aboot the snellist bit 'at A ever meind o be-in in o.
(b) Situation. More common in m. and s.Sc. than in n.Sc.
Kcb. 1934 5 :
McKeady his a big waage now, he's in a grand bit. Dmf. 1899 J. Shaw Country Schoolmaster 344:
Have you got a new bit?
(c) Original position; a particular spot.
Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
He canna stan' in a bit. Bnff. 1928 2 :
Peter's been tyaavin at it for the maist o' a week bit he's nae comin' oot o' the bit. Rxb.(D) 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 9:
A coodna wun off the bit aa day.
Comb.: ill bit, hell.
Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe xxix.:
If he forgot that lassie an' thae twa bonnie een, he wad be mair than human, an' waur than the blackest imp frae the ill bit.
(2) A mouthful (used for Eng. bite), hence sustenance, food.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. of Scott. Life and Char. 56:
He socht his bit frae toun to toun.
Phrases: (a) Bit an' baid, food and clothing.
Abd. after 1768 A. Ross Fortunate Shepherd MS. 10:
His bit an' baid, adds she, will ne'er be mist And fowk, they say, that help the poor are blest. [Used also in Ross Helenore 108.]
[Baid, of obscure origin. Cf. Sh. Bad(d), an article of clothing.]
(b) Bit and bed, food and board.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Gloss. 4:
Bit and bed = bed and board, meat and clothes. [Pop. etym. for baid, see (a).]
(c) Bit and brat, bit and the brattie, id.
m.Sc. 1838 A. Rodger Poems and Songs 313:
Our bairns they cam' thick — we were thankfu' for that, For the bit and the brattie cam' aye alang wi' them. Rnf. 1846 W. Finlay Poems 191:
We've lived our bairns to see In want o' baith their bit and brat, While we ha'e nane to gi'e. [See also Brat.]
(d) Bit and the buffet, food and blows (see quots.).
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 311:
Take the Bit, and the Buffet with it. Bear some ill Usage of them by whom you get Advantage. Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxi.:
Bucklaw . . . was accustomed to, and entertained by a fellow, whom he could either laugh with or laugh at as he had a mind, who would take, according to Scottish phrase, “the bit and the buffet.” Ayr. 1823 Galt Gathering of the West 19:
Ye let me hae nothing without a grumble — the bit and the buffet's my portion.
(e) Bit and drap, food and drink.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Ann. Parish i.:
She had to work sore for their bit and drap.
(f) Bit an' the dud, food and clothing.
Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxviii.:
Wi' that, he mum'l't oot something aboot fowk makin' themsell's eesefu' as lang's they not [needed] the bit an' the dud.
(g) Bit and sup (sowp), food and drink.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxviii.:
They shared every bit and sup wi' the whole folk in the Castle.
(3) Critical point.
Knr. 1891 “H. Haliburton” Ochil Idylls 41:
He's past the braes; he's at the bit Whaur folk may ware their gather'd wit. Ayr. 1786 Burns Add. to the Deil xi.:
When the best wark-lume i' the house, By cantraip wit, Is instant made no worth a louse, Just at the bit.
Phr.: to come to the bit, to come to the point.
Ayr. 1822 J. Goldie Songs 100:
For their courage grew cauld when it cam' to the bit. Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.:
To “come to the bit,” is to come to the point; to arrive at the last stage of a bargain. [O.Sc. at the bit, at the critical moment, 16th cent. (D.O.S.T.).]
(4) In pl., followed by of, used depreciatively. Bit of, as in bit of a coward, is good colloq. Eng. as well as Sc., but the pl. is more exclusively Sc.
Bnff. 1933 2 :
Wyte or I get my bits o' things pitten thegither, an' I'll be wi' ye in a meenit. Ags. 1820 A. Balfour Contemplation, etc. 265:
The bits o' hirdies, cauld an' weet, Near hand the fire durst never teet. Ags.(D) 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xviii.:
I was busy at the back door, hingin' oot some bits o' things. Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.:
Bits of things. Household furniture.
2. adj. (quasi). By omission of prep. of. Indicates smallness, trivialness, endearment, contempt.
Sc. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days vi.:
“A body's the better of a bit greet, whiles,” she said philosophically. Mry. 1830 Sir T. D. Lauder Moray Floods (1873) 121:
We also took in a maid-servant, twa bit lassies, and twa men. Mearns 1933 L. G. Gibbon in Scots Mag. (Feb.) 331:
She would stare and wonder and give a bit laugh. m.Sc. 1838 A. Rodger Poems and Songs 293:
My bonnie wee wifie . . . Has a canty bit ingle, a hearth white and clean. Uls. 1898 A. McIlroy Auld Meetin'-Hoose Green i.:
We'll alloo' ye tae keep the bit troot: only watch and dinna' choke on't.
3. In adv. phr. a bit, to some extent, rather, a little.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian v.:
Am no sae young as I hae been, Mr Butler, and a wee bit short in the temper.
You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.
"Bit n.1, adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Mar 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/bit_n1_adj>
Try an Advanced Search