- powers of intelligent observation, keen perception, ingenious contrivance, or the like; mental acuity, composure, and resourcefulness: using one's wits to get ahead.
- mental faculties; senses: to lose one's wits; frightened out of one's wits.
Origin of wit1
- either of the linemen stationed farthest from the center.
- the position played by this lineman.
verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- having the end down; upright: to stand a box on end.
- continuously; successively: They talked for hours on end.
Origin of end1
Synonyms for end
- the last section or part
- (as modifier)the end office Related adjectives: final, terminal, ultimate
- with the end pointing towards one
- with the end adjacent to the end of another object
- to sustain one's part in a joint enterprise
- to hold one's own in an argument, contest, etc
- without pause or interruption
- the worst, esp something that goes beyond the limits of endurance
- mainly USthe best in quality
Word Origin for end
Word Origin for end
Word Origin for wit
Word Origin for wit
"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.).
Old English ende "end, conclusion, boundary, district, species, class," from Proto-Germanic *andja (cf. Old Frisian enda, Old Dutch ende, Dutch einde, Old Norse endir "end;" Old High German enti "top, forehead, end," German ende, Gothic andeis "end"), originally "the opposite side," from PIE *antjo "end, boundary," from root *ant- "opposite, in front of, before" (see ante).
Original sense of "outermost part" is obsolete except in phrase ends of the earth. Sense of "destruction, death" was in Old English. Meaning "division or quarter of a town" was in Old English. The end "the last straw, the limit" (in a disparaging sense) is from 1929.
The phrase end run is first attested 1902 in U.S. football; extended to military tactics in World War II; general figurative sense is from 1968. End time in reference to the end of the world is from 1917. To end it all "commit suicide" is attested by 1911. Be-all and end-all is from Shakespeare ("Macbeth" I.vii.5).
Worldly wealth he cared not for, desiring onely to make both ends meet. [Thomas Fuller, "The History of the Worthies of England," 1662]
at one's wit's end
Also, at wits' end. Completely puzzled and perplexed, not knowing what to do. For example, I've tried every possible source without success, and now I'm at my wit's end. This idiom, which uses wit in the sense of “mental faculties,” appeared in Piers Ploughman (c. 1377).
In addition to the idioms beginning with end
- end game
- end in itself
- end justifies the means, the
- end of one's rope, at the
- end of the line
- end run
- ends of the earth, the
- end to end
- end up
- all's well that ends well
- at loose ends
- at one's wit's end
- be-all and end-all
- beginning of the end
- bitter end
- burn the candle at both ends
- can't see beyond the end of one's nose
- come to an end
- dead end
- go off the deep end
- hair stand on end
- hold one's end up
- in the end
- light at the end of the tunnel
- make ends meet
- never hear the end of
- odds and ends
- on end
- on the receiving end
- play both ends against the middle
- put an end to
- rear end
- short end (of the stick)
- tail end
- wrong end of the stick
see at one's wit's end; have one's wits about one; live by one's wits; scare out of one's wits; to wit.