- simple past tense and past participle of wit2.
- Archaic. to know.
- to wit, that is to say; namely: It was the time of the vernal equinox, to wit, the beginning of spring.
Origin of wit2
Examples from the Web for wist
"I wist I had a velehorsipede," he whispered, with a pensive air.
When Sir Bors saw that he must fight with his brother or else die, he wist not what to do.
When the king was dead, all the city was dismayed, and wist not who might be their king.
When Sir Launcelot heard this he was passing heavy, and wist not what to do.
He wist not whom he smote, so blind was his rage to get to the queen at the stake.'King Arthur's Knights
- archaic the past tense and past participle of wit 2
- the talent or quality of using unexpected associations between contrasting or disparate words or ideas to make a clever humorous effect
- speech or writing showing this quality
- a person possessing, showing, or noted for such an ability, esp in repartee
- practical intelligence (esp in the phrase have the wit to)
- Scot and Northern English dialect information or knowledge (esp in the phrase get wit of)
- archaic mental capacity or a person possessing it
- obsolete the mind or memory
- archaic to be or become aware of (something)
- to wit that is to say; namely (used to introduce statements, as in legal documents)
Word Origin and History for wist
"to know" (archaic), c.1500, from Old English past tense of witan "to know" (cf. German wusste, past tense of wissen "to know"); see wit. Had-I-wiste was used c.1400-1550 in sense "regret for something done rashly or heedlessly;" see wist. Proverbial in expression Had-I-wiste cometh ever too late.
Haddywyst comyth euer to late Whan lewyd woordis beth owte y-spronge. ["Commonplace book" in Trinity College, Cambridge, c.1500]
"mental capacity," Old English wit, more commonly gewit, from Proto-Germanic *witjan (cf. Old Saxon wit, Old Norse vit, Danish vid, Swedish vett, Old Frisian wit, Old High German wizzi "knowledge, understanding, intelligence, mind," German Witz "wit, witticism, joke," Gothic unwiti "ignorance"), from PIE *woid-/*weid-/*wid- "to see," metaphorically "to know" (see vision). Related to Old English witan "to know" (source of wit (v.)). Meaning "ability to make clever remarks in an amusing way" is first recorded 1540s; that of "person of wit or learning" is from late 15c. For nuances of usage, see humor.
A witty saying proves nothing. [Voltaire, Diner du Comte de Boulainvilliers]
Wit ought to be five or six degrees above the ideas that form the intelligence of an audience. [Stendhal, "Life of Henry Brulard"]
"know," Old English witan "to know," from Proto-Germanic *witanan "to have seen," hence "to know" (cf. Old Saxon witan, Old Norse vita, Old Frisian wita, Middle Dutch, Dutch weten, Old High German wizzan, German wissen, Gothic witan "to know"); see wit (n.). The phrase to wit, almost the only surviving use of the verb, is first recorded 1570s, from earlier that is to wit (mid-14c.), probably a loan-translation of Anglo-French cestasavoir, used to render Latin videlicet (see viz.).