I want to know the what part of speech is this, the word 'fit' in this sentence



I saw the sentence

I cried fit to bust.

But I don't know how the word 'fit' works in the sentence above.

I'd like to know what part of speech is this, the word 'fit' in this sentence, and the meaning of the sentence above. Is bust a noun in the sentence above?
Would you like to tell me the answer?


Posted 2016-11-13T14:59:55.293

Reputation: 3 103

It looks like a predicative adjunct to me where "fit" is an adjective with infinitival "to bust" as complement. So it's an idiom where "bust" means "burst". It's predicative because it refers to a predicand, in this case the subject "I". – BillJ – 2016-11-13T16:20:41.013

@BillJ I think that is definitely the origin of the construction, but in my dialect at least it has passed into an adverbial. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2016-11-13T16:42:12.890

I suppose it depends on whether you see it as a manner adjunct (adverbial) or a predicative as in "I was fit to bust". – BillJ – 2016-11-13T16:51:20.823



fit there is a regional colloquialism. It is synonymous with the word ready.

You can say to a person who is overfilling a balloon:

That balloon is fit to bust.

meaning 'that balloon is ready to burst', or 'that balloon is about to burst'.

People also say "I was fit to be tied" meaning "I was so irate that I reached a state of insanity and needed to be restrained". It is a form of exaggeration.


Posted 2016-11-13T14:59:55.293

Reputation: 116 610

1A regionalism from where? – curiousdannii – 2016-11-14T05:30:29.673

fit used in this way (e.g. fit to bust) is associated with predominantly southern and rural dialects. It is not something you'd expect to come from the lips of a native of Boston, say, San Francisco, or Portland. That said, in the US there have been very large shifts of population, and so you could hear this and similar turns of phrase almost anywhere nowadays from speakers with a southern connection. Blacks from the south resettled north in the 20th century in what is known as the Great Migration, and many Anglo southerners had resettled to the southwest in the 19th century. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-14T11:20:55.987

Just to be clear, the regional connection is not in phrases like "the water was not fit to drink" (where it means "suitable") but in turns of phrase where "fit to" has an aspectual sense, coloring the verb. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-14T11:46:51.567

And, of course, I'm speaking of American English. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-14T11:55:10.203


Fit to VERB in this case is a construction with the approximate meaning "to the point of VERBing". "I cried fit to bust" means "I cried so hard I almost burst", and you might encountered this in "I laughed fit to bust" or "He was mad fit to bust", meaning "I laughed so hard I almost burst" or "He was so angry he seemed like he would burst".

Bust here is a colloquial variant of burst. Other verbs may also occur in the construction.

Historically the construction derives from the adjective fit, "suitable, prepared" with the extended sense of "inclined" or "disposed", and it was at one time used predicatively; but the adjectival sense has long since evaporated from the construction, which is to the best of my knowledge now used only adverbially, and only in colloquial and dialect contexts. I wouldn't bother with any more granular syntactical analysis: this is a fixed construction.

Fit to VERB is also used with its ordinary adjectival sense "suitable for VERBing" or "suitable to be VERBen"; that use is standard, fit to employ in any register.

TRomano reminds us of fit to be tied used predicatively, so I've struck my hasty generalization. But I think the construction is adverbial far more often than adjectival.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2016-11-13T14:59:55.293

Reputation: 176 469

It's hard to tell the dancer from the dance. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-11-13T15:34:49.597

I don't think it's entirely a one-off fixed construction. To my mind, most of these written instances of *looked set to cry* would be just as acceptable (and mean exactly the same thing) if they'd used *fit*. It may be just a personal thing, but to me the *fit* version seems more colloquial / facetious.

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-11-13T16:36:22.873

@FumbleFingers With 'looked', sure, but *She laughed set to burst*? --it doesn't work for me. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2016-11-13T16:40:53.047

Agreed - for the specific verb *laugh* it doesn't really work. Personally, I suspect the construction *[verb] fit to [verb]* is a relatively recent "quirky/folksy" usage that very often involves uncontrollable autonomous actions (laughed, sneezed) with exaggeratedly undesirable consequences (bust, die). But I can't help feeling it derives from / alludes to related earlier and probably (once) more mainstream versions involving *set*. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-11-13T17:14:31.107


Laughing/crying/coughing fit to bust/burst:

  • laughing/crying etc a lot

"Fit" here is an adverb.


Posted 2016-11-13T14:59:55.293


It can't be an adverb since adverbs don't take infinitival complements. – BillJ – 2016-11-13T16:14:12.550

2@BillJ isn't "fit to burst" like an adverbial phrase? It tells us to what degree we laughed, cried, coughed, etc. "I ate fit to bust" means I ate until I felt myself bursting. Anyway, I upvoted this answer and Stoney. B's because they clearly show that "fit to bust" is a fixed expression. – Mari-Lou A – 2016-11-13T17:32:53.067

1Yes, it could be an adjunct in clause structure if it is interpreted as describing the manner in (or degree to) which "I cried". But I think the more plausible interpretation is that is describing the subject "I", in which case it would be predicative, cf. "I cried until I was fit to bust", or simply "I was fit to bust", both clearly adjectival predicatives. The point about predicative adjuncts is that the predicative/non-predicative contrast cuts across that between complements and adjuncts (adverbials). – BillJ – 2016-11-13T18:11:34.800