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

fit the bill or 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.”
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  • v  be what is needed or be good enough for what is required

  • v  be what is needed or be good enough for what is required
News & Articles

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  • 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.]
    July 23, 2013 - Philadelphia Weekly
  • Ready to Rock
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    June 26, 2013 - Boise Weekly