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[half-wit, hahf-] /ˈhælfˌwɪt, ˈhɑf-/
a person who is feeble-minded.
a person who is foolish or senseless; dunderhead.
Origin of half-wit
First recorded in 1670-80
2. blockhead, dolt, fool, nitwit, dope, dummy, dimwit. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for half-wit
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For the instant he partially suspected mischief and wheeled about, but one look at the half-wit dissipated all doubt.

    Sunlight Patch Credo Fitch Harris
  • "No half-wit about you," admiringly quoth the carpenter's mate.

    Blackbeard: Buccaneer Ralph D. Paine
  • You see, he confessed—the half-wit did—before he was killed.

    The Broken Gate Emerson Hough
  • For what the half-wit did was what he had seen these others do.

    The Broken Gate Emerson Hough
  • Allie Mulberry the half-wit was one of the highlights of life in the town.

    Poor White Sherwood Anderson
  • "Hello, Pa," exclaimed the half-wit, and laughed long and loud.

    The Broken Gate Emerson Hough
  • There he began to think less about the half-wit, with his livid face and mouth like a fish.

  • "Now you—now you throw it at me—and I'll hit it," said the half-wit.

    The Broken Gate Emerson Hough
  • And, as Fibsy had declared, he knew the half-wit now well enough to feel pretty sure when he was telling the truth and when not.

    The Diamond Pin Carolyn Wells
Word Origin and History for half-wit

1670s, originally "a would-be wit whose abilities are mediocre;" sense of "simpleton" (one lacking all his wits) is first attested 1755.

Half-wits are fleas; so little and so light,
We scarce could know they live, but that they bite.
[Dryden, "All for Love"]
Phrase out of half wit "half out of one's mind" was in Middle English (late 14c.). Half-witted "lacking common sense" is from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for half-wit



A foolish person: half-wits in the phys ed class (1755+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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