- the keen perception and cleverly apt expression of those connections between ideas that awaken amusement and pleasure.
- speech or writing showing such perception and expression.
- a person having or noted for such perception and expression.
- understanding, intelligence, or sagacity; astuteness.
- Usually wits.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Origin of wit1
- Archaic. to know.
- to wit, that is to say; namely: It was the time of the vernal equinox, to wit, the beginning of spring.
Origin of wit2
Examples from the Web for wit
With twice as many British soldiers, Washington was in for a fiercely competitive battle of wit and strength.The British Royals Reinvade Brooklyn: William and Kate Come Watch Basketball on Historic Battle Site
December 6, 2014
He was renowned for his wit, disarming his critics with unfailing humor.Boris Johnson’s Churchill Man Crush
Michael F. Bishop
November 22, 2014
Renowned livestock specialist and autism advocate Temple Grandin brought her unique intellect and wit to Reddit.The Most Inspiring Bits of Temple Grandin’s Reddit AMA
November 18, 2014
Amid our grief we now see that New York had been distracted by flash and wit and cash for too long.The Resilient City: New York After 9/11
September 11, 2014
It was a circle of exceptionally bright teenagers who revelled equally in wit and in culture.Why World War I Is at the Heart of ‘Lord of the Rings’
July 29, 2014
I wonder that they have not wit to learn English now that they have come under the English crown.
Wit, lad, is a catching thing, like the itch or the sweating sickness.
She was quick of wit, and she read his tone as well as his words.K
Mary Roberts Rinehart
It is Mary Fitton who has "wit and invention," and is "an admirable musician."The Man Shakespeare
In all the stand up there, wit' their flounces and jewels, there isn't a lady like her.Thoroughbreds
W. A. Fraser
- 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 and 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
- 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 and History 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.).
Idioms and Phrases with 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.