One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The egg or young form of a louse or other parasitic insect, especially the egg of a human head louse attached to a hair.
- ‘Apply once a day for athlete's foot; for nits, comb through hair and leave overnight, then reapply in 10 days.’
- ‘I've been pulling nits from her hair 2-3 times a day.’
- ‘Infested people usually have no more than 10 to 12 live head lice at a time but can harbor hundreds of eggs and nits.’
- ‘Lice lay nits on hair shafts close to the skin's surface, where the temperature is perfect for keeping warm until they hatch.’
- ‘Combing with a special nit comb can be a very effective, if time-consuming, way to combat nits and head lice - when used in conjunction with a natural or pharmaceutical remedy.’
- ‘Vacuuming is recommended to pick up fallen hairs with nits attached from upholstered furniture, carpets and beds.’
- ‘Enzymatic shampoos that claim to dissolve the glue that attaches nits to hair are also available.’
- ‘In the first trial, parents were instructed to remove nits (lice eggs) with a nit-removal comb during step two, and in the second trial parents skipped this step.’
- ‘For an effective treatment for nits and hair lice, soak at least 20 seeds for an hour in warm water.’
- ‘Parents generally discover head lice by seeing the nits in a child's hair, or when children complain of itching.’
- ‘The white lice nits were found on 76% of birds and are easily seen.’
- ‘There were three blankets to cover us, all covered with fleas, nits and insects.’
- ‘The use of chemical preparations to kill the nits and lice is controversial.’
- ‘Patients were considered cured if they experienced no increased scratching and itching, and there were no visible lice or nits after a wet combing test.’
- ‘Vinegar or vinegar-based products that are applied to the hair for three minutes before combing help loosen the nits attached to the hair shaft.’
- ‘Presumably mineral oil is acting like petroleum jelly to smother the live lice and loosen nits.’
- ‘Every month the lice are still there, with their sticky white nits glued to Joelle's hair like rice burned to the side of a saucepan.’
- ‘If you do not want to use these products, you have to pick the lice and nits out of the hair by hand or use a special comb to remove them.’
- ‘There are products to loosen the ‘cement’ attaching nits to hair shafts.’
- ‘You can tell if your child has lice by checking his hair for nits.’
2British A foolish person.‘you stupid nit!’idiot, ass, halfwit, nincompoop, blockhead, buffoon, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, cretin, imbecile, dullard, moron, simpleton, clodView synonyms
Look for and criticize trivial faults; nit-pick.‘the press will stop picking nits once the next president is in office’
- ‘Not to pick nits, but the phrase, ‘Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness’, is from the New Testament.’
- ‘As long as we're picking nits, let's say that she didn't kill herself.’
- ‘I intend to pick nits and I'll not be ashamed of anal retentive or obsessive behaviour!’
- ‘And while I'm picking nits, I must add my opinion of Furst's female characters.’
- ‘Some Dublin critics have been predictably quick to pick nits.’
- ‘It's hard to pick nits when a movie throbs with as much energy as this one does.’
- ‘Although I've been picking nits with the handling of Carell's character Andy, the fact still remains that the actor is a naturally funny guy, and even through the problems, still finds comedic ways to shine.’
- ‘Perhaps a few more trips to the free throw line are in order, but that seems to be picking nits.’
- ‘But these ideas would require a boldness and ingenuity that cannot come from candidates shackled to the very interests that profit from today's regressive tax policies, leaving the candidates to think small and pick nits.’
- ‘Normally, I wouldn't even mention it but as a reviewer I have to pick nits and be as anal retentive as possible.’
Old English hnitu, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch neet and German Nisse.
Used as a warning that someone is approaching.
informal Keep watch or act as a guard.
- ‘Well, I started it, and I say that we keep nit here, and not turn it into a separate board.’
- ‘If you keep nit while a burglary is conducted, you're guilty of the burglary even though you haven't even entered the property.’
- ‘I'll keep nit for you if you want.’
- ‘He had kept nit, even though he had entered with it strapped to his back.’
- ‘Brandy breaks the equipment down to see Joe again and Phyllis keeps nit.’
- ‘Lesbians sat in the front window keeping nit for anyone with a police or armed forces haircut or demeanor and with a yell from one of them, the place would clear out a back entrance in a flash.’
- ‘Their caution, if slight, remained, each kept nit by rote, all had their something to contribute though.’
Late 19th century: probably from nix.
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