Definitions starting with B

ID #1376

bit (1)

[ Car.; from physically cutting Spanish dollars into 8 bits or pieces of eight; bit is used with various equivalents, e.g. 8 cents (Guyana), 10 cents (Barbados, Miskito Coast of Nicaragua), 41/2 d. (Jamaica); cf. also US two bits 25 cents] n., Obs. the sterling equivalent of the Mexican real, ranging from fivepence halfpenny (late 18th cent.) to fourpence halfpenny (late 19th cent.): 1786 The Bahama Almanack: Price Two Bitts (Bahama Gazette). 1788 In the Bahama Islands the reckoning is by pieces of eight, which is an imaginary coinage worth eight bits so-called. The bits are in part an old round Spanish coin, in part small irregular pieces of silver worth 10½ such bits, or 4 sh. 8 d. sterling (Schoepf 296). 1888 A bit . . . fourpence halfpenny (Powles 158).

Tags: currency, noun

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Last update: 2010-09-04 23:22
Author: Holm and Shilling, DBE, 1982
Revision: 1.0

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