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[wit-ing] /ˈwɪt ɪŋ/
knowing; aware; conscious.
North England. knowledge.
Origin of witting
1250-1300; Middle English witing. See wit2, -ing2, -ing1
Related forms
wittingly, adverb


[wit] /wɪt/
verb (used with or without object), present singular 1st person wot, 2nd wost, 3rd wot, present plural wit or wite; past and past participle wist; present participle witting.
Archaic. to know.
to wit, that is to say; namely:
It was the time of the vernal equinox, to wit, the beginning of spring.
before 900; Middle English witen, Old English witan; cognate with Dutch weten, German wissen, Old Norse vita, Gothic witan to know; akin to Latin vidēre, Greek ideîn to see, Sanskrit vidati (he) knows. See wot Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for witting
Historical Examples
  • This, however, cannot be expected till they see clearly that foreign iron-masters are witting to co-operate.

    Life's Handicap Rudyard Kipling
  • But Charles, proceeding, could see in this figure only the witting cause of all the trouble.

    Angela's Business Henry Sydnor Harrison
  • To all this problem, vexing so many generations, the clear and witting touch of Lincoln's sacrificial penitence is the master key.

  • I had my reasons––good ones––I––came back to confess to the––un––un––witting––killing of my cousin, Richard.

    The Eye of Dread Payne Erskine
  • Spain arrogated to herself unlimited power over the nations she had founded, witting not that they were nations.

    Ponce de Leon William Pilling
British Dictionary definitions for witting


adjective (rare)
deliberate; intentional: a witting insult
aware; knowing
Derived Forms
wittingly, adverb


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 & 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
See also wits
Word Origin
Old English witt; related to Old Saxon giwitt, Old High German wizzi (German Witz), Old Norse vit, Gothic witi. See wit²


(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
Old English witan; related to Old High German wizzan (German wissen), Old Norse vita, Latin vidēre to see
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for witting

"aware," mid-14c. (implied in wittingly), present participle adjective from wit (v.).



"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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for witting


Related Terms


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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Related Abbreviations for witting


witness (shortwave transmission)
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with witting
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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