Ken GreenwaldPosts: 3811Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2004 8:25 amCountry: USAFirst Name: KenLast Name: GreenwaldLocation: Ft.Collins, Colorado, USA
In the posting running ameans with itself, I shelp that Erik’s suggestions for indistinguishable phrases seem to FIT THE BILL. Later, upon reflection, I realized that I really didn’t know what BILL my comment was referring to. The only one I could think of was, as in let the ‘punishment fit the crime,’ ‘let the payment fit the bill.’ But that little bit of wisdom appeared hardly worth the creation of an idiom in its honor. And a small voice then told me, ‘Get thee to a slang dictionary!’There, I uncovered that the expression actually started, and is provided in the majority of resources as, FILL THE BILL, which, as my Google search revealed, didn’t sheight ~ 1.5 million cluemuch less folks such as myself from making use of FIT THE BILL versus the lesser ~ 1 million that obtained it ‘right’ utilizing FILL THE BILL. But gain sufficient folks to say somepoint wrong long enough and it magically becomes the brand-new ‘right’ or, as in this circumstances, the brand-new ‘additionally appropriate.’ FILL/FIT THE BILL: Be suitable/ideal for a certain purpose; be simply what is required; meet or exceed requirements; suffice._________________________________All the dictionaries I checked agreed on the truth that the origin was theatrical via the BILL in question being the printed list of items on a theater regime or advertisement. However, the specific details of its etymology differ, with tbelow being 2 schools of thought:School #1: Fill out the entertainment bill with enough acts to create a show of enough size. This generally connected a star plus some lesser-known acts or maybe simply a collection of acts with no star billing. AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY OF IDIOMSFILL THE BILL: Serve a specific purpose well, as in I was afraid tright here wasn’t enough chicken for everyone, yet this cassefunction will certainly fill the bill or Karen’s testimony just fills the bill, so we’re sure to get a conviction. This expression alludes to adding less-recognized performers to a regimen (or bill) in order to make a lengthy sufficient entertainment. <<‘Make an entertainment’ is a strange-sounding phraseology>> __________________________OXFORD DICTIONARY OF SLANGFIT (or FILL THE BILL): Be suitable for a certain objective <Bill in this context is a published list of items on a theatrical programme of advertisement>__________________________FACTS ON FILE DICTIONARY OF CLICHÉS TO FILL THE BILL: To meet the needs, to suit a objective. This term initially came from the nineteenth-century Amerideserve to stage, wbelow the posters announcing a regime would certainly list the star attractions and also then add lesser-recognized entertainers to complete the display (or fill out the bill). By mid-century the term had actually been moved to other locations, where it obtained a much more main feeling of giving what was needed._____________________________________________________________School #2: The star’s name shows up alone and also in big letters and ‘fills the bill.’FACTS ON FILE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORD AND PHRASE ORIGINSFILL THE BILL: Theatrical carriers in the 1ninth century advertised largely on posters and handbills that were distributed in communities by advance guys several weeks before a present concerned town. The name of the troupe’s star performer was featured on these bills in big letters, to the exclusion of the rest of the company—he or she filled the bill, was the show’s star. Soon the vivid picture behind this theatrical expression meaning “to star” involved include a much more complicated, larger thought, and by 1860 to fill the bill intended “to be exceptionally experienced, efficient, to execute all that is preferred, intended, or required.”__________________________PICTURESQUE EXPRESSION by UrdangFILL THE BILL: Meet or exceed requirements; achieve that which is expected of required. . . . Dating from the 1800s, this expression had its beginnings in theatrical companies. To advertise performances, agents posted bills announcing the title and the stars. It became the goal of eincredibly star to become so celebrated that his name would fill the bill to the exemption of the remainder of the troupe.__________________________CASSELL’S DICTIONARY OF SLANGFILL THE BILL verb (initially U.S.

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: 1) To suit ideally, to accomplish. 2) To occupational out, to be efficient. Slang and also Its Analogues by Farmer & Henley – 1890-1904)____________________________________________________________If the winning etymology is identified by majority ascendancy, in the above dictionary vote, it’s a tie. Of course, unchoose a Google count – a popularity vote – wright here the majority deserve to wear dvery own the opplace and also make some things appropriate by brute force (as FIT did here), an etymology is either appropriate or wrong, and also in this particular instance it seems to me that, till further notification, the jury is out.____________________________________________________________
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(quotes from the Oxford English Dictionary and also archived sources)_____________________Ken G – January 5, 2009
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Erik_KowalPosts: 8929Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:28 pmCountry: United KingdomFirst Name: ErikLast Name: KowalLocation: UK; lived many years in USA
Maybe it"s not so much a question of "fill the bill" being right and "fit the bill" being wrong as of 2 equivalent expressions via various emphases obtaining currency alongside each other.My assumed is that if "fill the bill" indicates "to fill the entertainment bill through enough acts to produce a present of enough length", "fit the bill" might have come right into being via the meaning "to encompass acts in the bill that are equivalent to the major act or that match it well".If my surmise is correct, it is feasible that the 2 idioms prospered to be viewed as more or less interchangeable because of the overlap that would frequently exist in the categories they describe, and/or as the connection between the idioms and their original refeleas started to recede in the popular consciousness.Perhaps some even more research would certainly clarify the validity of my guess. ;-)
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Wizard of OzPosts: 4392Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2005 5:14 amCountry: AustraliaFirst Name: DavidLocation: Newcastle, New South WalesContact:
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Re: fit the bill / fill the bill

Postby Wizard of Oz » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:13 am


.. it is amazing to note that in Brewer"s DOP&F they have an each method bet of sorts on the etymology .. they indicate that ..
"Fill the bill, To. To be suitable; to be right for the purpose. The recommendation is perhaps to the size of lettering offered for the name of an actor on a theatrical poster or bill. If one actor was missing, the name of one more would relocation him and occupy the very same space.
Signature: "The question is," shelp Alice, "whether you deserve to make words mean so many type of various things."
Ken GreenwaldPosts: 3811Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2004 8:25 amCountry: USAFirst Name: KenLast Name: GreenwaldLocation: Ft.Collins, Colorado, USA
Erik, What you have hypothesized seems totally possible. I had not assumed of them as developing in parallel bereason the earliest OED example of FILL THE BILL was from 1861 and the earliest FIT THE BILL I had been able to come up via was from 1925. But I had actually not really looked that hard for at an early stage FIT examples. In doing some extra searching, I discovered a FIT THE BILL from 1890, which I have actually included to my over posting and I saw a few others that could have actually been from even previously, yet I couldn"t administer their dates with certainty. I think that the Brewer"s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable comment in Wiz"s above posting, which has the magic word perhaps, more than likely represents the most realistic assessment of the batch – the origin of the 2 expressions seems to have actually been theatrical and it is not well-known for particular precisely what FILL THE BILL or FIT THE BILL initially referred to, nor whether the 2 expressions occurred separately, and also if they did, which came initially. So, as I mentioned previously, the jury is still out however probably knows also less than I thought it did. (>;)___________________Ken – January 6, 2009
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trolleyPosts: 2729Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2006 10:15 pmCountry: CanadaFirst Name: johnLast Name: larkinLocation: Victoria, B.C.

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Speaking of the jury still being out, tbelow is a 3rd school of believed. It may be a very little institution, though, as I can"t discover any corroboration on the internet. I remember hearing (or reading), somewbelow, at some point that the bill in question was actually a legal record recognized as a "bill of particulars". This bill is a composed statement, submitted by a plaintiff or a prosecutor at the repursuit of a defendant, giving the defendant thorough information concerning the claims or charges made versus him or her. As a side-note, “fit the bill” might be a misheard marital relationship of “fill the bill" and also “foot the bill”.