Definitions for: Wit


[n] mental ability; "he's got plenty of brains but no common sense"
[n] a message whose ingenuity or verbal skill or incongruity has the power to evoke laughter
[n] (informal) a witty amusing person who makes jokes



Webster (1913) Definition: Wit, v. t. & i. [inf. (To) Wit; pres. sing. Wot; pl.
Wite; imp. Wist(e); p. p. Wist; p. pr. & vb. n.
Wit(t)ing. See the Note below.] [OE. witen, pres. ich wot,
wat, I know (wot), imp. wiste, AS. witan, pres. w[=a]t, imp.
wiste, wisse; akin to OFries. wita, OS. witan, D. weten, G.
wissen, OHG. wizzan, Icel. vita, Sw. veta, Dan. vide, Goth.
witan to observe, wait I know, Russ. vidiete to see, L.
videre, Gr. ?, Skr. vid to know, learn; cf. Skr. vid to find.
????. Cf. History, Idea, Idol, -oid, Twit, Veda,
Vision, Wise, a. & n., Wot.]
To know; to learn. ``I wot and wist alway.'' --Chaucer.



Note: The present tense was inflected as follows; sing. 1st
pers. wot; 2d pers. wost, or wot(t)est; 3d pers. wot,
or wot(t)eth; pl. witen, or wite. The following variant
forms also occur; pres. sing. 1st & 3d pers. wat, woot;
pres. pl. wyten, or wyte, weete, wote, wot; imp. wuste
(Southern dialect); p. pr. wotting. Later, other
variant or corrupt forms are found, as, in Shakespeare,
3d pers. sing. pres. wots.

Brethren, we do you to wit [make you to know] of
the grace of God bestowed on the churches of
Macedonia. --2 Cor. viii.
1.

Thou wost full little what thou meanest.
--Chaucer.

We witen not what thing we prayen here.
--Chaucer.

When that the sooth in wist. --Chaucer.

Note: This verb is now used only in the infinitive, to wit,
which is employed, especially in legal language, to
call attention to a particular thing, or to a more
particular specification of what has preceded, and is
equivalent to namely, that is to say.


Wit, n. [AS. witt, wit; akin to OFries. wit, G. witz, OHG.
wizz[=i], Icel. vit, Dan. vid, Sw. vett. [root]133. See
Wit, v.]
1. Mind; intellect; understanding; sense.

Who knew the wit of the Lord? or who was his
counselor? --Wyclif (Rom.
xi. 34).

A prince most prudent, of an excellent And unmatched
wit and judgment. --Shak.

Will puts in practice what wit deviseth. --Sir J.
Davies.

He wants not wit the dander to decline. --Dryden.

2. A mental faculty, or power of the mind; -- used in this
sense chiefly in the plural, and in certain phrases; as,
to lose one's wits; at one's wits' end, and the like.
``Men's wittes ben so dull.'' --Chaucer.

I will stare him out of his wits. --Shak.

3. Felicitous association of objects not usually connected,
so as to produce a pleasant surprise; also. the power of
readily combining objects in such a manner.

The definition of wit is only this, that it is a
propriety of thoughts and words; or, in other terms,
thoughts and words elegantly adapted to the subject.
--Dryden.

Wit which discovers partial likeness hidden in
general diversity. --Coleridge.

Wit lying most in the assemblage of ideas, and
putting those together with quickness and variety
wherein can be found any resemblance or congruity,
thereby to make up pleasant pictures in the fancy.
--Locke.

4. A person of eminent sense or knowledge; a man of genius,
fancy, or humor; one distinguished for bright or amusing
sayings, for repartee, and the like.

In Athens, where books and wits were ever busier
than in any other part of Greece, I find but only
two sorts of writings which the magistrate cared to
take notice of; those either blasphemous and
atheistical, or libelous. --Milton.

Intemperate wits will spare neither friend nor foe.
--L'Estrange.

A wit herself, Amelia weds a wit. --Young.

The five wits, the five senses; also, sometimes, the five
qualities or faculties, common wit, imagination, fantasy,
estimation, and memory. --Chaucer. Nares.

But my five wits nor my five senses can Dissuade one
foolish heart from serving thee. --Shak.

Syn: Ingenuity; humor; satire; sarcasm; irony; burlesque.

Usage: Wit, Humor. Wit primarily meant mind; and now
denotes the power of seizing on some thought or
occurrence, and, by a sudden turn, presenting it under
aspects wholly new and unexpected -- apparently
natural and admissible, if not perfectly just, and
bearing on the subject, or the parties concerned, with
a laughable keenness and force. ``What I want,'' said
a pompous orator, aiming at his antagonist, ``is
common sense.'' ``Exactly!'' was the whispered reply.
The pleasure we find in wit arises from the ingenuity
of the turn, the sudden surprise it brings, and the
patness of its application to the case, in the new and
ludicrous relations thus flashed upon the view. Humor
is a quality more congenial to the English mind than
wit. It consists primarily in taking up the
peculiarities of a humorist (or eccentric person) and
drawing them out, as Addison did those of Sir Roger de
Coverley, so that we enjoy a hearty, good-natured
laugh at his unconscious manifestation of whims and
oddities. From this original sense the term has been
widened to embrace other sources of kindly mirth of
the same general character. In a well-known caricature
of English reserve, an Oxford student is represented
as standing on the brink of a river, greatly agitated
at the sight of a drowning man before him, and crying
out, ``O that I had been introduced to this gentleman,
that I might save his life! The, ``Silent Woman'' of
Ben Jonson is one of the most humorous productions, in
the original sense of the term, which we have in our
language.

Synonyms: brain, brainpower, card, humor, humour, learning ability, mental capacity, mentality, wag, witticism, wittiness

See Also: bon mot, caricature, cartoon, caustic remark, content, fun, gag, humorist, humourist, imitation, impersonation, intelligence, irony, jape, jest, jeu d'esprit, joke, laugh, message, mot, play, repartee, ribaldry, sarcasm, satire, sketch, sport, subject matter, substance, topper, wheeze, yak

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