Fit the bill and fill the bill

Fit the bill and fill the bill are two iterations of an idiom. We will examine the meaning of the common idioms fit the bill and fill the bill, where they came from, and some examples of their idiomatic usage in sentences.

Fit the bill describes something that is useful or suitable for a given situation. If something fits the bill it satisfies a need perfectly or falls into place easily. The expression fit the bill came into use in the early twentieth century, but it’s popularity soared mid-twentieth century. Today, it is by far the most popular of the two idioms. Related phrases are fits the bill, fitting the bill.

Fill the bill also describes something useful or suitable for a given situation; this phrase is much older than fit the bill. Fill the bill came into use in the mid-1800s and is related to the theater. In this expression, the word, bill, means an advertisement or poster touting the lineup of acts in a show. The term fill the bill may refer to show owners filling the lineup of a show with numerous lesser acts, a necessary strategy to give the appearance of providing exciting entertainment. The term fill the bill may also refer to having a star who is famous enough to warrant using large type in the show advertisement that fills the bill. Related phrases are fills the bill, filled the bill, filling the bill.

Examples

Golladay, Toney and Rudolph fit the bill, but the biggest addition would be a fully healthy RB Saquon Barkley, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 2 last season. (New York Post)

Jordon, 27, awkwardly told his disappointed new wife that she didn’t quite fit the bill for what he would normally look for. (Irish Sun)

If you’re looking for outdoor or at-home dining and safe entertainment that doesn’t involve large, crowded events, these go-at-your-own pace activities will fill the bill (and your belly). (Dallas Observer)

If you can’t find any Father’s Day gift ideas to fill the bill, why not create a DIY Father’s Day gift basket this year that won’t end up collecting dust in the bottom of the closet? (Country Living Magazine)

Here are some other idioms we covered: