• synonyms


[half-wit, hahf-]
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  1. a person who is feeble-minded.
  2. a person who is foolish or senseless; dunderhead.
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Origin of half-wit

First recorded in 1670–80


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2. blockhead, dolt, fool, nitwit, dope, dummy, dimwit.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for halfwit

Historical Examples

  • Was this the man that had played the part of a halfwit so successfully at Bar X ranch?

    Mason of Bar X Ranch

    Henry Bennett

  • Trent Burton, the halfwit, and Trent Burton in action, were two different persons.

British Dictionary definitions for halfwit


  1. a feeble-minded person
  2. a foolish or inane person
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Derived Formshalfwitted, adjectivehalfwittedly, adverbhalfwittedness, noun
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 halfwit



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper