Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

wit1

[wit]
noun
  1. the keen perception and cleverly apt expression of those connections between ideas that awaken amusement and pleasure.
  2. speech or writing showing such perception and expression.
  3. a person having or noted for such perception and expression.
  4. understanding, intelligence, or sagacity; astuteness.
  5. Usually wits.
    1. powers of intelligent observation, keen perception, ingenious contrivance, or the like; mental acuity, composure, and resourcefulness: using one's wits to get ahead.
    2. mental faculties; senses: to lose one's wits; frightened out of one's wits.
Show More
Idioms
  1. at one's wit's end. at the end of one's ideas or mental resources; perplexed: My two-year-old won't eat anything but pizza, and I'm at my wit's end.
  2. keep/have one's wits about one, to remain alert and observant; be prepared for or equal to anything: to keep your wits about you in a crisis.
  3. live by one's wits, to provide for oneself by employing ingenuity or cunning; live precariously: We traveled around the world, living by our wits.
Show More

Origin of wit1

before 900; Middle English, Old English: mind, thought; cognate with German Witz, Old Norse vit; akin to wit2
Can be confusedwhit wit

Synonym study

Humor, wit refer to an ability to perceive and express a sense of the clever or amusing. Humor consists principally in the recognition and expression of incongruities or peculiarities present in a situation or character. It is frequently used to illustrate some fundamental absurdity in human nature or conduct, and is generally thought of as more kindly than wit: a genial and mellow type of humor; his biting wit. Wit is a purely intellectual manifestation of cleverness and quickness of apprehension in discovering analogies between things really unlike, and expressing them in brief, diverting, and often sharp observations or remarks.

end1

[end]
noun
  1. the last part or extremity, lengthwise, of anything that is longer than it is wide or broad: the end of a street; the end of a rope.
  2. a point, line, or limitation that indicates the full extent, degree, etc., of something; limit; bounds: kindness without end; to walk from end to end of a city.
  3. a part or place at or adjacent to an extremity: at the end of the table; the west end of town.
  4. the furthermost imaginable place or point: an island at the very end of the world.
  5. termination; conclusion: The journey was coming to an end.
  6. the concluding part: The end of her speech had to be cut short because of time.
  7. an intention or aim: to gain one's ends.
  8. the object for which a thing exists; purpose: The happiness of the people is the end of government.
  9. an outcome or result: What is to be the end of all this bickering?
  10. termination of existence; death: He met a horrible end.
  11. a cause of death, destruction, or ruin: Another war would be the end of civilization.
  12. a remnant or fragment: mill end; ends and trimmings.
  13. a share or part in something: He does his end of the job very well.
  14. Textiles. a warp thread running vertically and interlaced with the filling yarn in the woven fabric.
  15. Football.
    1. either of the linemen stationed farthest from the center.
    2. the position played by this lineman.
  16. Archery. the number of arrows to be shot by a competitor during one turn in a match.
  17. Cricket. a wicket, especially the one where the batsman is taking a turn.
  18. a unit of a game, as in curling or lawn bowling.
  19. Kantianism. any rational being, regarded as worthy to exist for its own sake.
  20. either half of a domino.
  21. Knots. the part of a rope, beyond a knot or the like, that is not used.
  22. the end, Slang. the ultimate; the utmost of good or bad: His stupidity is the end.
Show More
verb (used with object)
  1. to bring to an end or conclusion: We ended the discussion on a note of optimism.
  2. to put an end to; terminate: This was the battle that ended the war.
  3. to form the end of: This passage ends the novel.
  4. to cause the demise of; kill: A bullet through the heart ended him.
  5. to constitute the most outstanding or greatest possible example or instance of (usually used in the infinitive): You just committed the blunder to end all blunders.
Show More
verb (used without object)
  1. to come to an end; terminate; cease: The road ends at Rome.
  2. to issue or result: Extravagance ends in want.
  3. to reach or arrive at a final condition, circumstance, or goal (often followed by up): to end up in the army; to end as a happy person.
Show More
adjective
  1. final or ultimate: the end result.
Show More
Idioms
  1. at loose ends, without an occupation or plans; unsettled; uncertain: He spent two years wandering about the country at loose ends.
  2. at one's wit's end, at the end of one's ideas or mental resources; perplexed: I'm at my wit's end with this problem.Also at one's wits' end.
  3. end for end, in reverse position; inverted: The cartons were turned end for end.
  4. end on, with the end next to or facing: He backed the truck until it was end on with the loading platform.
  5. end to end, in a row with ends touching: The pipes were placed end to end on the ground.
  6. go off the deep end, Informal. to act in a reckless or agitated manner; lose emotional control: She went off the deep end when she lost her job.
  7. in the end, finally; after all: In the end they shook hands and made up.
  8. keep/hold one's end up, to perform one's part or share adequately: The work is demanding, but he's holding his end up.
  9. make an end of, to conclude; stop: Let's make an end of this foolishness and get down to work.
  10. make ends meet, to live within one's means: Despite her meager income, she tried to make ends meet.Also make both ends meet.
  11. no end, Informal. very much or many: They were pleased no end by the warm reception.
  12. on end,
    1. having the end down; upright: to stand a box on end.
    2. continuously; successively: They talked for hours on end.
  13. put an end to, to cause to stop; terminate; finish: The advent of sound in motion pictures put an end to many a silent star's career.
Show More

Origin of end1

before 900; Middle English, Old English ende; cognate with Old Frisian enda, Middle Dutch e(i)nde, Old Saxon endi, Old High German anti, G Ende, Old Norse endi(r), Gothic andeis end < Germanic *anthjá-; akin to Sanskrit ánta- end
Related formsend·er, noun

Synonyms

Synonym study

5. End, close, conclusion, finish, outcome refer to the termination of something. End implies a natural termination or completion, or an attainment of purpose: the end of a day, of a race; to some good end. Close often implies a planned rounding off of something in process: the close of a conference. Conclusion suggests a decision or arrangement: All evidence leads to this conclusion; the conclusion of peace terms. Finish emphasizes completion of something begun: a fight to the finish. Outcome suggests the issue of something that was in doubt: the outcome of a game. 7. See aim.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for at one's wit's end

end1

noun
  1. the extremity of the length of something, such as a road, line, etc
  2. the surface at either extremity of a three-dimensional object
  3. the extreme extent, limit, or degree of something
  4. the most distant place or time that can be imaginedthe ends of the earth
  5. the time at which something is concluded
    1. the last section or part
    2. (as modifier)the end office Related adjectives: final, terminal, ultimate
  6. a share or parthis end of the bargain
  7. (often plural) a remnant or fragment (esp in the phrase odds and ends)
  8. a final state, esp death; destruction
  9. the purpose of an action or existence
  10. sport either of the two defended areas of a playing field, rink, etc
  11. bowls curling a section of play from one side of the rink to the other
  12. American football a player at the extremity of the playing line; wing
  13. all ends up totally or completely
  14. a sticky end informal, US and Canadian an unpleasant death
  15. at a loose end or US and Canadian at loose ends without purpose or occupation
  16. at an end exhausted or completed
  17. at the end of the day See day (def. 10)
  18. come to an end to become completed or exhausted
  19. end on
    1. with the end pointing towards one
    2. with the end adjacent to the end of another object
  20. go off the deep end informal to lose one's temper; react angrily
  21. get one's end away slang to have sexual intercourse
  22. in the end finally
  23. keep one's end up
    1. to sustain one's part in a joint enterprise
    2. to hold one's own in an argument, contest, etc
  24. make ends meet or make both ends meet to spend no more than the money one has
  25. no end or no end of informal (intensifier)I had no end of work
  26. on end
    1. upright
    2. without pause or interruption
  27. the end informal
    1. the worst, esp something that goes beyond the limits of endurance
    2. mainly USthe best in quality
  28. the end of the road the point beyond which survival or continuation is impossible
  29. throw someone in at the deep end to put someone into a new situation, job, etc, without preparation or introduction
Show More
verb
  1. to bring or come to a finish; conclude
  2. to die or cause to die
  3. (tr) to surpass; outdoa novel to end all novels
  4. end it all informal to commit suicide
Show More
See also end up
Derived Formsender, noun

Word Origin

Old English ende; related to Old Norse endir, Gothic andeis, Old High German endi, Latin antiae forelocks, Sanskrit antya last

end2

verb
  1. (tr) British to put (hay or grain) into a barn or stack
Show More

Word Origin

Old English innian; related to Old High German innōn; see inn

wit1

noun
  1. the talent or quality of using unexpected associations between contrasting or disparate words or ideas to make a clever humorous effect
  2. speech or writing showing this quality
  3. a person possessing, showing, or noted for such an ability, esp in repartee
  4. practical intelligence (esp in the phrase have the wit to)
  5. Scot and Northern English dialect information or knowledge (esp in the phrase get wit of)
  6. archaic mental capacity or a person possessing it
  7. obsolete the mind or memory
Show More
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 wit ²

wit2

verb
  1. archaic to be or become aware of (something)
Show More
adverb
  1. to wit that is to say; namely (used to introduce statements, as in legal documents)
Show More

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

Word Origin and History for at one's wit's end

wit

n.

"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"]
Show More

wit

v.

"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.).

Show More

end

v.

Old English endian, from the source of end (n.). Related: Ended; ending.

Show More

end

n.

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]
Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with at one's wit's end

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).

Show More

end

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

also see:

  • 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
Show More

wit

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.

Show More
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.