Canon T1i, street mime, New Orleans, La. USA. Such a stern look on a comic face. Love the quarter in the ear.
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In the U.S., the “bit” as a designation for money dates from the colonial period, when the most common unit of currency used was the Spanish dollar, also known as “piece of eight”, which was worth 8 Spanish silver reales. One eighth of a dollar or one silver real was one “bit”.
With the adoption of the decimal U.S. currency in 1794 there was no longer a coin worth 1/8 of a dollar but “two bits” remained in the language with the meaning of one quarter dollar, “four bits” half dollar, etc.
“Two bits” or “two bit” continues in general use as a colloquial expression, primarily because of the song catchphrase “Shave and a Haircut, two bits.” As an adjective, “two-bit” can be used to describe something cheap or unworthy.