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Thank you again for all your responses to my question about what the word
bit is. It is a shortened form of (don't recall who suggested this
phrase, but he was correct--it is more elegant and civilized than short
for) BInary digiT. The overwhelming opinion seems to be that bit is a
contraction. It is the blending or fusion of two words, and everyone
seems to agree that this is what a contraction is. So there you have it!