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Two Bits and Pieces of Eight

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Nancy from Berthold, North Dakota, used the expression two bits to mean “25 cents.” Her adult daughter had heard neither that expression nor the saying Shave and a haircut, two bits or the cheer Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar. The story behind two bits goes back to colonial times in the United States, when a very large, thin coin known as the real, Spanish for “royal,” was literally cut into eight pieces, each literally known as a bit. It’s the same reason that you’ll hear about pirates and their pieces of eight. This is part of a complete episode.

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