|n.||1.||The part of a bridle, usually of iron, which is inserted in the mouth of a horse, and having appendages to which the reins are fastened.|
|2.||Fig.: Anything which curbs or restrains.|
|1.||In the British West Indies, a fourpenny piece, or groat.|
|v. t.||1.||To put a bridle upon; to put the bit in the mouth of.|
|imp. & p.||1.|
|n.||1.||A part of anything, such as may be bitten off or taken into the mouth; a morsel; a bite. Hence: A small piece of anything; a little; a mite.|
|2.||Somewhat; something, but not very great.|
|3.||A tool for boring, of various forms and sizes, usually turned by means of a brace or bitstock. See Bitstock.|
|4.||The part of a key which enters the lock and acts upon the bolt and tumblers.|
|5.||The cutting iron of a plane.|
|6.||In the Southern and Southwestern States, a small silver coin (as the real) formerly current; commonly, one worth about 12 1/2 cents; also, the sum of 12 1/2 cents.|
|1.||(Computers) the smallest unit of information, equivalent to a choice between two alternatives, as |
|2.||(Computers) the physical representation of a bit of information in a computer memory or a data storage medium. Within a computer circuit a bit may be represented by the state of a current or an electrical charge; in a magnetic storage medium it may be represented by the direction of magnetization; on a punched card or on paper tape it may be represented by the presence or absence of a hole at a particular point on the card or tape.|
|3d sing. p||1.|
|Noun||1.||bit - a small quantity; "a spot of tea"; "a bit of paper"|
|2.||bit - a small fragment of something broken off from the whole; "a bit of rock caught him in the eye"|
|3.||bit - an indefinitely short time; "wait just a moment"; "it only takes a minute"; "in just a bit"|
|4.||bit - an instance of some kind; "it was a nice piece of work"; "he had a bit of good luck"|
|5.||bit - piece of metal held in horse's mouth by reins and used to control the horse while riding; "the horse was not accustomed to a bit"|
|6.||bit - a unit of measurement of information (from Binary + digIT); the amount of information in a system having two equiprobable states; "there are 8 bits in a byte"|
|7.||bit - a small amount of solid food; a mouthful; "all they had left was a bit of bread"|
|8.||bit - a small fragment; "overheard snatches of their conversation"|
|9.||bit - a short theatrical performance that is part of a longer program; "he did his act three times every evening"; "she had a catchy little routine"; "it was one of the best numbers he ever did"|
|10.||bit - the cutting part of a drill; usually pointed and threaded and is replaceable in a brace or bitstock or drill press; "he looked around for the right size bit"|
|(unit)||bit - (b) binary digit.|
The unit of information; the amount of information obtained by asking a yes-or-no question; a computational quantity that can take on one of two values, such as false and true or 0 and 1; the smallest unit of storage - sufficient to hold one bit.
A bit is said to be "set" if its value is true or 1, and "reset" or "clear" if its value is false or 0. One speaks of setting and clearing bits. To toggle or "invert" a bit is to change it, either from 0 to 1 or from 1 to 0.
The term "bit" first appeared in print in the computer-science sense in 1949, and seems to have been coined by the eminent statistician, John Tukey. Tukey records that it evolved over a lunch table as a handier alternative to "bigit" or "binit".
See also flag, trit, mode bit, byte, word.