From subtitles for a Russian movie. The source translated for two-bit was:


[English meaning totally, absolutely (something bad)] (Do you know russian word "dno"?)

  • 3
    "Two bits" is an American expression for a quarter (dollar). Hence "Two-bit" is a slang adjective meaning "of little value". It doesn't appear to be a literal translation, but expresses a judgment which is presumably elsewhere in the script, or in the setting.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 18:05
  • 2
    "Two-bit" is American slang for a quarter of a dollar. By extension, it means something cheap. A "two-bit jerk" would be a petty, unpleasant person.
    – user888379
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 18:06
  • @ColinFine You beat me by a few seconds...
    – user888379
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 18:06
  • 2
    If you are interested in a more accurate translation, 'two-bit' doesn't seem to correspond to the original Russian. The more appropriate English would be 'total (or absolute) jerk', meaning literally that the person is all jerk. A 'two-bit' jerk would be a jerk that is of little value or negligible.
    – Mitch
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


"Two-bit" is an idiom meaning cheap or petty. It comes from a slang term for the American eighth of a dollar, a "bit." Even after the "bit" was phased out of the currency in 1792, the term "two-bit" persisted to refer to the quarter dollar.

A two-bit person isn't worth much. From the Oxford English Dictionary under "two, adj, n., and adv.":

1978 T. Willis Buckingham Palace Connection viii. 155 Some other two-bit General will try shooting us up.

When applied to people or things, unless it is used ironically, it is a put-down or insult, implying cheapness or low quality.

So "two-bit jerk" may mean that the character isn't of much importance and he's a jerk (i.e. he's rude or crass).

  • 2
    Side note: the British equivalent of "two-bit" is the derogatory tuppenny-ha’penny, an abbreviation of "two-and-a-half pence." You’d think he’d lost a Rolex rather than that tuppenny-ha’penny old watch of his. It's not heard much these days. Commented May 6, 2019 at 18:39
  • 2
    @WeatherVane Brits abbreviate "two-and-a-half-pence" with a phrase that's longer?
    – David Rice
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 20:57
  • 1
    Also because tuppeny-ha'penny is pronounced with four syllables, not six. (tup-nee hape-nee) Commented May 6, 2019 at 21:12
  • 1
    pre-decimal there were smaller coins than the penny, ie: ha'penny and farthing
    – Jasen
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 21:47
  • 3
    @supercat Decimal half pence were in circulation up till 1984. Commented May 6, 2019 at 22:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.