fit the bill vs fill the bill : Common Errors in English

About fit the bill vs fill the bill

Originally a “bill” was any piece of writing, especially a legal document (we still speak of bills being introduced into Congress in this sense). More narrowly, it also came to mean a list such as a restaurant “bill of fare” (menu) or an advertisement listing attractions in a theatrical variety show such as might be posted on a “billboard.” In nineteenth-century America, when producers found short acts to supplement the main attractions, nicely filling out an evening’s entertainment, they were said in a rhyming phrase to “fill the bill.” People who associate bills principally with shipping invoices frequently transform this expression, meaning “to meet requirements or desires,” into “fit the bill.” They are thinking of bills as if they were orders, lists of requirements. It is both more logical and more traditional to say “fill the bill.”

fit the bill Meaning(s)

  • (v) be what is needed or be good enough for what is required

fill the bill Meaning(s)

  • (v) be what is needed or be good enough for what is required

fit the bill in News

  1. 2014 Fiat 500L: The Jalopnik Review

    After a rocky start in America that included a series of strangely schizophrenic ad campaigns , Fiat says that sales of their adorably Italian 500 are finally surging. But dealers and customers alike have been clamoring for something larger but equally cute and Euro-chic. Can the embiggened 500L fit the bill? ( Full disclosure : Fiat wanted me to drive the 2014 500L so badly that they put me up ...
    on June 18, 2013 Source: Jalopnik

  2. Change is for the better at Gettysburg

    If you’re looking for a belated Father’s Day gift, or a mini-vacation with the family, a trip to Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center in the small southern Pennsylvania community should fit the bill while serving as a pleasant surprise.
    on June 17, 2013 Source: Olean Times Herald

fill the bill in News

  1. Brother: Metta can be ‘goon’ for Knicks

    Daniel Artest, Metta World Peace’s brother who had a brief professional career, told The Post the Knicks were missing a certain element last season — “a goon.’’ He feels his brother can fill the bill. The Knicks got beat — and beat up — by the Pacers last May in the playoffs...
    on July 30, 2013 Source: New York Post

  2. Letters to the Editor

    Fill the Bill In response to Randy LoBasso’s feature on State Representative Brian Sims’ first 200 days in office: Brian Sims is a breath of fresh air and energy on the Pennsylvania political scene. While his predecessor’s heart was in the right place, Babette Josephs never seemed... [This is a summary. To read the full article on, click the headline above.]
    on July 24, 2013 Source: Philadelphia Weekly

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