Fit the Bill or Fill the Bill – Meaning and Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

You’re about to get a fitting for the phrase fit the bill. This phrase has been used for ages and holds a specific meaning when used correctly. But wait, is it fill the bill or fit the bill? Let’s start there, shall we?

Is It Fill the Bill or Fit the Bill?

Fit the Bill vs Fill the Bill Ngram
Fit the bill and fill the bill usage trend.

First things first, let’s get our ducks — or should we say, bills — in a row. Fill the bill and fit the bill are both valid idioms in English, but they serve different purposes.

Fill the bill means to serve a particular purpose or to be what is needed in a situation.

But fit the bill is used when something or someone is suitable for a particular purpose or meets a specific requirement. The differences are subtle but important — like choosing between a tuxedo or a tailored suit for a formal event. Not everyone will notice, but some will!

Fit the Bill Meaning Explained

Fit the Bill or Fill the Bill – Meaning and Origin

So, what does fit the bill mean? If someone or something fits the bill, they’re ideally suited for a particular purpose or role. Think of it like this: if you’re casting for the role of a suave secret agent, a person who exudes charm and can deliver cheesy one-liners with a straight face might just fit the bill.

Fit the Bill Origin and Etymology

The phrase fit the bill has theatrical origins that go all the way back to the early 19th century. The bill in question refers to a playbill, the list of dramatic pieces or parts that an actor was expected to perform. If an actor was deemed suitable for a specific role, they were said to fit the bill.

Synonyms for Fits the Bill

  • Measures up
  • Meets the requirements
  • Suits the purpose
  • Is up to snuff
  • Matches the criteria

Fit the Bill Expression Examples in a Sentence

Fit the Bill or Fill the Bill – Meaning and Origin 1

  • We need someone with strong leadership skills and marketing experience. You seem to fit the bill perfectly.
  • I was looking for a thrilling book to read during my vacation, and this mystery novel certainly fits the bill.
  • They needed a fast and reliable car for their road trip. The new sports car fits the bill.
  • We needed a speaker who could captivate the audience, and she definitely fit the bill.
  • The job required someone with an eye for detail. Fortunately, their new hire fits the bill.
  • They were searching for a perfect picnic spot, and the park by the river fit the bill.
  • He was looking for a romantic restaurant for his anniversary dinner, and the little Italian place downtown fit the bill.
  • For the film role, they needed an actor who could sing and dance. The Broadway star fits the bill.
  • She wanted a pet that was low-maintenance, and the goldfish certainly fit the bill.
  • This smartphone fits the bill for all my needs with its large storage and high-quality camera.

Curtain Call

Just like a performer taking a bow after a successful show, the phrase fit the bill steps in to signify suitability and appropriateness. It’s like language; only certain words and phrases fit the bill in terms of context and topic.

Here are some other idioms we covered: