a bit

AlmostEnglish

Senior Member
Polish
I've just been watching a British TV series from the '70s and I've noticed "a bit" (as in "go somewhere for a bit" or "fancy a bit") is often used as an implication of something naughty. It's so to the point that people in the series are corrected and told not to use this phrase at all, so that they don't end up being misunderstood.
Is it still used that way?
It's better to know these things... :D
 
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I'm afraid to say, AE, that yes, we are still capable of giggling over the (perfectly innocent and wholly indispensable) phrase a bit ...

    but it really has to be used in a particular way ~ and really only as a noun ~ for anyone to see the potential double entendre:

    I went round to my boss's house to give him some papers. He wasn't at home but his wife was ~ she invited me in for a bit [snigger snigger]

    Fancy a bit will always get puerile folk's double entendre muscles twitching, whereas fancy a bit of cake/music/Pavarotti etc. won't.

    That kind of thing:eek:
     

    Prairiefire

    Senior Member
    US (Midwest) - English
    Interesting! It's not at all suggestive in American English. I suppose I've been missing some of the jokes when I watch British comedy.
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Interesting! It's not at all suggestive in American English. I suppose I've been missing some of the jokes when I watch British comedy.
    True. If I heard that someone was "invited in for a bit," I'd assume it meant "a bit of time" or "a few minutes." "I stayed for a bit and then I left" would be a perfectly normal thing for me to say (and I have one of the most developed double entendre muscles you could hope to meet).
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Ah well it's such a vital component of phrases such as a bit of slap-and-tickle and a bit of how's-your-father* that those of us who respond to those kinds of things hear the 'saucy' parts even when they're not actually said ... or even intended.


    *There are others of these, but my brain's gone dead. A little bit of what-you-fancy is another ~ thanks, Google.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Don't worry, if you are chatting to a friend or neighbour on the doorstep and the weather's a bit cold, very few people would misinterpret "Why don't you come in for a bit?" as an invitation to a romp on the hearthrug. It is a very ordinary phrase.

    There are some contexts where it might mean the hearthrug, but you should be able to work those out for yourself.
     

    AlmostEnglish

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Don't worry, if you are chatting to a friend or neighbour on the doorstep and the weather's a bit cold, very few people would misinterpret "Why don't you come in for a bit?" as an invitation to a romp on the hearthrug. It is a very ordinary phrase.

    There are some contexts where it might mean the hearthrug, but you should be able to work those out for yourself.
    Yeah, I think I'll be able to work those out... Bit worried that I'll see it everywhere now :D
    Thanks :)
     
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