a bit of bread

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dark.resurrection

Senior Member
Farsi
Hello everyone,
I am really confused since I came across different definitions for "a bit of" in different dictionaries,
"I gave the duck a bit of bread"
Collins dictionary say
s : a considerable amount
Cambridge dictionary says: We use a bit (of) or bits (of) to refer to quantities. The phrases can refer to both abstract and concrete things. They are an informal alternative to some, or a piece of or pieces of
Oxford dictionary says: A small piece, part, or quantity of something.

So does a bit of mean: a little, some or a lot of ? :confused::confused::confused:
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I think the context would make one think that a small piece is being described. Or at least that's how most people feed birds, right?

    For AE speakers, a "bit" is a small amount.
     

    dark.resurrection

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    It depends on the context. It is also partly a cultural question: "a bit" is more to a Brit than to an American.

    Cross-posted.
    But that causes a lot of bewilderedness
    "you need a bit of courage to do this job" says someone without providing you with any details about the job! Interesting!
     

    dark.resurrection

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    But "this job" is specific; there is a context. Nobody would say "You need a bit of courage to do this job" without a context.
    The first day of you job you enter your office and one of your colleagues without mentioning why, says, " I hope you understand this job requires a bit of courage. "
    you had thought it was a normal job, but now they are are warning you about something.
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    "A small piece", "a small quantity", "a short time"—these definitions appear in the dictionary at the top of this page.
    The basic meaning refers to smallness.
    But it seems that "a bit" is also often used in ironic understatements, to mean a significant quantity, something that is not small.
    "A bit" appears in more than one of the examples given in the Wikipedia article "Understatement".
    One of these refers to a soldier whose leg has been amputated; when asked how he feels, he replies "Stings a bit."
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    "A small piece", "a small quantity", "a short time"—these definitions appear in the dictionary at the top of this page.
    The basic meaning refers to smallness.
    But it seems that "a bit" is also often used in ironic understatements, to mean a significant quantity, something that is not small.
    "A bit" appears in more than one of the examples given in the Wikipedia article "Understatement".
    One of these refers to a soldier whose leg has been amputated; when asked how he feels, he replies "Stings a bit."
    Indeed it is the context that usually makes it clear when it is literal or ironic :)
     

    dark.resurrection

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    "A small piece", "a small quantity", "a short time"—these definitions appear in the dictionary at the top of this page.
    The basic meaning refers to smallness.
    But it seems that "a bit" is also often used in ironic understatements, to mean a significant quantity, something that is not small.
    "A bit" appears in more than one of the examples given in the Wikipedia article "Understatement".
    One of these refers to a soldier whose leg has been amputated; when asked how he feels, he replies "Stings a bit."
    Now that makes sense! Thanks everyone for taking the time, I can't thank you enough
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    From Collins@WRF it’s way down the list:)

    1. a small piece, portion, or quantity
    2. a short time or distance
    3. us canadian informal the value of an eighth of a dollar: spoken of only in units of two: two bits
    4. any small coin
    5. short for bit part
    6. a bit ⇒ rather; somewhat: a bit dreary
    7. a bit of ⇒ rather: a bit of a dope
    8. a considerable amount: that must take quite a bit of courage
    9. bit by bit ⇒ gradually
    10. do one's bit ⇒ to make one's expected contribution
     
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