When I tried to say drill bit before I knew the word bit, I used a phrase analogous to the one used in my mother language ("head(er) of the drill") which wasn't understood at all by the listeners.

What phrase would a native speaker say instead of drill bit or bit?

  • Can you tell us a bit more about the usage in your language, related to your question? I am wondering how it's different between languages. – user485 Apr 15 '13 at 0:34
  • @user3169 In my mother tongue, there noun is for 'drill + bit', let's call it X. The functional end of a handheld tool, such as screwdriver and stabber, is called 'head' of the tool, hence drill bit is called 'X head'. – NS.X. Apr 15 '13 at 0:44
  • This is similar to what done in Italian, where drill bit is translated with punta del trapano, and the functional end of the screwdriver is called punta del cacciavite. – kiamlaluno Apr 15 '13 at 0:59
  • If the native speaker is familiar with power tools, "drill bit" is perfectly clear. If unfamiliar, there is probably no phrase that would be understood without an introduction to or demonstration of the tool. – barbara beeton Apr 15 '13 at 18:44
  • When talking about the fluted thing that twists around and around and cuts a hole in something, "drill", "bit", and "drill bit" are synonyms. If I'm building a pole barn and want to drill a 12mm hole in a piece of wood and ask my wife for an appropriate cutting tool I might say, "Hand me up the 12 millilmeter bit", or "Gimme a 12 millimeter drill", or "Let me have that 1/2 inch drill bit - it's the closest we've got to 12mm". :-) – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Jan 28 '15 at 20:15

The drill itself is the tool that turns the bit. I suppose, then, if I had to describe the bit without using the word bit, I would say something along the lines of:

...that part of the drill that actually bores the hole; the piece you put inside the drill, the one that spins.

Yet another way you could do this would be to say:

That piece that drills the hole; the piece that goes in the chuck

(however, I would guess that, if someone doesn't know the word bit, they are unlikely to know the word chuck, either).

  • Thanks for the answer and thanks for editing the question to make it much better! From this answer I've learned 'piece' isn't necessarily flat-shaped. – NS.X. Apr 15 '13 at 0:48
  • 2
    @NS.X: Indeed, piece is a rather generic yet versatile word. We can speak of a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, a piece of pie, a piece of fruit, a piece of equipment, or a piece as a part of some object or equipment that can be assembled or disassembled, like a musical instrument, or a vacuum cleaner. – J.R. Apr 15 '13 at 1:14

Properly, I think you need to learn both drill and bit first.

bit - 5. the cutting part of any tool, as the blade of a plane

drill - 1. a tool or apparatus for boring holes in wood, metal, stone, teeth, etc.

Each one by itself will not describe what you want.

Though in reality, I think we would just learn drill bit as a separate noun, without thinking about the meaning of bit so much.

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