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Two Bits

Posted by James Briggs on October 22, 2002

Today had this request from someone in the US - he had a 'wgates' in his email address, but he's not THAT one. Can any one confirm/refute/clarify? I can't. Thanks.
"Do you know the etymology of "two bits". In the U.S., it means a quarter (the coin worth 25 cents, or a quarter of a dollar). My grandfather told me long ago that it derives from the archaic "piece of eight", a Spanish(?) coin that was scored into eight pie shaped bits. These could be broken off to make lesser denomination coin currency. If someone had two of the pieces (broken off a piece of eight) he would have two bits, or one quarter of the whole coin."