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twit1

[twit]
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verb (used with object), twit·ted, twit·ting.
  1. to taunt, tease, ridicule, etc., with reference to anything embarrassing; gibe at.
  2. to reproach or upbraid.
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noun
  1. an act of twitting.
  2. a derisive reproach; taunt; gibe.
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Origin of twit1

1520–30; aphetic variant of obsolete atwite, Middle English atwiten, Old English ætwītan to taunt, equivalent to æt- at1 + wītan to blame

twit2

[twit]
noun
  1. a weak or thin place in yarn caused by uneven spinning.
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Origin of twit2

First recorded in 1810–20; origin uncertain

twit3

[twit]
noun Informal.
  1. an insignificant, silly, or bothersome person: Pay no attention to that obnoxious little twit!
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Origin of twit3

1920–25; perhaps orig. noun derivative of twit1, i.e., “one who twits others,” but altered in sense by association with expressive words with tw- (twaddle, twat, twerp, etc.) and by rhyme with nitwit

twit4

[twit]
noun Informal.
  1. a confused, excited state: to be in a twit about company coming.
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Origin of twit4

probably shortened from twitter
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for twit

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • From that evening, in fact, they watched for every opportunity to twit her about her hopeless dream.

    L'Assommoir

    Emile Zola

  • If you are afraid, we will both back out, and then neither can twit the other.

    In School and Out

    Oliver Optic

  • The profession of a gentleman at large, with which you twit me, I hereby renounce.

    The Master of the Shell

    Talbot Baines Reed

  • They twit me in the teeth, because I cannot say who my father and mother were.

    Rienzi

    Edward Bulwer Lytton

  • Do you know, Tishy dear, I was just going to twit you with the negro and his spots.

    Somehow Good

    William de Morgan


British Dictionary definitions for twit

twit1

verb twits, twitting or twitted
  1. (tr) to tease, taunt, or reproach, often in jest
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noun
  1. US and Canadian informal a nervous or excitable state
  2. rare a reproach; taunt
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Word Origin

Old English ætwītan, from æt against + wītan to accuse; related to Old High German wīzan to punish

twit2

noun
  1. informal, mainly British a foolish or stupid person; idiot
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Word Origin

C19: from twit 1 (originally in the sense: a person given to twitting)
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 twit

v.

1520s, shortened form of atwite, from Old English ætwitan "to blame, reproach," from æt "at" + witan "to blame," from Proto-Germanic *witanan (cf. Old English wite, Old Saxon witi, Old Norse viti "punishment, torture;" Old High German wizzi "punishment," wizan "to punish;" Dutch verwijten, Old High German firwizan, German verweisen "to reproach, reprove," Gothic fraweitan "to avenge"), from PIE root *weid- "to see" (see vision). For sense evolution, cf. Latin animadvertere, literally "to give heed to, observe," later "to chastise, censure, punish."

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n.

"foolish, stupid and ineffectual person," 1934, British slang, popular 1950s-60s, crossed over to U.S. with British sitcoms. It probably developed from twit (v.) in the sense of "reproach," but it may be influenced by nitwit.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper