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wit1

[wit] /wɪt/
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.
Synonyms: wisdom, sense, mind.
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.
    Synonyms: mind, sanity; brains, marbles.
Idioms
6.
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.
7.
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.
8.
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
900
before 900; Middle English, Old English: mind, thought; cognate with German Witz, Old Norse vit; akin to wit2
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.

wit2

[wit] /wɪt/
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), present singular 1st person wot, 2nd wost, 3rd wot, present plural wit or wite; past and past participle wist; present participle witting.
1.
Archaic. to know.
Idioms
2.
to wit, that is to say; namely:
It was the time of the vernal equinox, to wit, the beginning of spring.
Origin
before 900; Middle English witen, Old English witan; cognate with Dutch weten, German wissen, Old Norse vita, Gothic witan to know; akin to Latin vidēre, Greek ideîn to see, Sanskrit vidati (he) knows. See wot
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for wit
  • Sarcasm does tear the flesh but humor and wit is a different story and often confused with the corniest of joke tellers.
  • There are no algorithms for wit, irony, humor or stylish writing.
  • His comments were infrequent, and when he did pipe up they were often lame, lacking wit and humor.
  • You are a woman of great poise and wit.
  • In high school she cultivated a quick wit to fend off bullies.
  • And she was a practiced liar as well as a wit.
  • Please continue to grace us with your amazing wit and charm.
  • Many people believe that displaying their wit and intelligence will reap rewards for them.
  • Every habit makes our hand more witty and our wit less handy.
  • His wit, emerging in droll remarks delivered without warning from a solemn expression, is increasingly evident.
British Dictionary definitions for wit

wit1

/wɪt/
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 & 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
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 wit²

wit2

/wɪt/
verb
1.
(archaic) to be or become aware of (something)
adverb
2.
to wit, that is to say; namely (used to introduce statements, as in legal documents)
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
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Word Origin and History for wit
wit
"mental capacity," O.E. wit, more commonly gewit, from P.Gmc. *witjan (cf. O.S. wit, O.N. vit, Dan. vid, Swed. vett, O.Fris. wit, O.H.G. wizzi "knowledge, understanding, intelligence, mind," Ger. Witz "wit, witticism, joke," Goth. unwiti "ignorance"), from PIE *woid-/*weid-/*wid- "to see," metaphorically "to know" (see vision). Related to O.E. witan "to know" (source of wit (v.)). Meaning "ability to make clever remarks in an amusing way" is first recorded 1542; that of "person of wit or learning" is from c.1470. Witticism coined 1677, by Dryden. For nuances of usage, see humor.
"A witty saying proves nothing." [Voltaire, Diner du Comte de Boulainvilliers]
wit
"know," O.E. witan "to know," from P.Gmc. *witanan "to have seen," hence "to know" (cf. O.S. witan, O.N. vita, O.Fris. wita, M.Du., Du. weten, O.H.G. wizzan, Ger. wissen, Goth. witan "to know"); see wit (n.). The phrase to wit, almost the only surviving use of the verb, is first recorded 1577, from earlier that is to wit (1340), probably a loan-translation of Anglo-Fr. cestasavoir, used to render L. videlicet (see viz.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for wit

wit

Related Terms

nitwit


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Related Abbreviations for wit

WIT

witness (shortwave transmission)
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with wit
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for wit

communication in which the stimulus produces amusement

Learn more about wit with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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6
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