\ ˈwit How to pronounce wit (audio) \

Definition of wit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the ability to relate seemingly disparate things so as to illuminate or amuse
b(1) : a talent for banter or persiflage
(2) : a witty utterance or exchange
c : clever or apt humor
d : astuteness of perception or judgment : acumen
2a : a person of superior intellect : thinker
b : an imaginatively perceptive and articulate individual especially skilled in banter or persiflage
3a : reasoning power : intelligence
4a : sense sense 2a usually used in pluralalone and warming his five wits, the white owl in the belfry sits— Alfred Tennyson
b(1) : mental soundness : sanity usually used in plural
(2) : mental capability and resourcefulness : ingenuity
at one's wit's end or at one's wits' end
: at a loss for a means of solving a problem


\ ˈwit How to pronounce wit (audio) \
wist\ ˈwist How to pronounce wist (audio) \; witting; present first and third person singular wot\ ˈwät How to pronounce wot (audio) \

Definition of wit (Entry 2 of 2)

1 archaic : know
2 archaic : to come to know : learn

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Choose the Right Synonym for wit


wit, humor, irony, sarcasm, satire, repartee mean a mode of expression intended to arouse amusement. wit suggests the power to evoke laughter by remarks showing verbal felicity or ingenuity and swift perception especially of the incongruous. a playful wit humor implies an ability to perceive the ludicrous, the comical, and the absurd in human life and to express these usually without bitterness. a sense of humor irony applies to a manner of expression in which the intended meaning is the opposite of what is seemingly expressed. the irony of the title sarcasm applies to expression frequently in the form of irony that is intended to cut or wound. given to heartless sarcasm satire applies to writing that exposes or ridicules conduct, doctrines, or institutions either by direct criticism or more often through irony, parody, or caricature. a satire on the Congress repartee implies the power of answering quickly, pointedly, or wittily. a dinner guest noted for repartee

Examples of wit in a Sentence

Noun She is full of wit and vivacity. His latest book doesn't have the same wit as his earlier books. The book is a collection of his wit and wisdom. She was a famous writer and wit.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun He was known for his kindness, sense of humor and quick wit. South Bend Tribune, Indianapolis Star, "Mishawaka's longest-serving mayor, Robert Beutter, dies at 84," 3 Jan. 2020 Founded by Michael Zilkha and Michel Esteban in 1978, ZE Records was home to a genre-blurring roster of artists who freely mixed everything from disco to Latin to post-punk to dance, all with the sardonic wit of a street-savvy outsider. Joe Lynch, Billboard, "From ZE Records to Debbie Gibson: A PR Vet's Eclectic Life Behind the Curtain," 12 Dec. 2019 Scrooge’s dialogue, though, drips with the wit and sarcasm of a man whose outlook on life has become jaded over the years, especially around Christmas. Jerald Pierce, chicagotribune.com, "Review: ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Goodman still offers surprises," 27 Nov. 2019 Arguably the pundit with the driest wit, Sutton never shies away from the controversial issues and doesn't appear to have heard of a fence, let alone sat on one. SI.com, "90min's Premier League Hall of Fame: Class of 2011," 22 Oct. 2019 She’ll be joined by fellow Emmy winner (yes, really) Taylor Swift, and will hopefully bring along the signature Brit wit that made Fleabag and Killing Eve so delightful. Ew Staff, EW.com, "What to Watch this Weekend: Phoebe Waller-Bridge takes SNL with Taylor Swift," 4 Oct. 2019 The 27-year-old lyricist has an unapologetic wit sharper than most of your favorite emcees combined. Kynala Phillips, Essence, "Reading For All The Homies: Rapper Noname Starts New Book Club," 29 July 2019 His quick wit can catch you off guard since the 68-year old is known more for news conference rants than a sense of humor. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "Mac Jones isn’t afraid to talk a little trash to Nick Saban," 19 Dec. 2019 There is sadness here but also humor and wit and an overall feeling of engagement with life. Washington Post, "In these new audiobooks, great tales are matched with great narrators," 17 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of wit


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3b


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wit


Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German wizzi knowledge, Old English witan to know


Middle English witen (1st & 3rd singular present wot, past wiste), from Old English witan (1st & 3rd singular present wāt, past wisse, wiste); akin to Old High German wizzan to know, Latin vidēre to see, Greek eidenai to know, idein to see

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Learn More about wit

Time Traveler for wit

Time Traveler

The first known use of wit was before the 12th century

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Statistics for wit

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wit.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wit. Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for wit


How to pronounce wit (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of wit

: an ability to say or write things that are clever and usually funny
: a person who is known for making clever and funny remarks
: the ability to think or reason


\ ˈwit How to pronounce wit (audio) \

Kids Definition of wit

1 : normal mental state usually used in pl.He scared me out of my wits.
2 : power to think, reason, or decide He had the wit to leave. The chess player matched wits with a computer.
3 : clever and amusing comments, expressions, or talk
4 : a talent for making clever and usually amusing comments
5 : a person with a talent for making clever and amusing comments

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More from Merriam-Webster on wit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wit

Spanish Central: Translation of wit

Nglish: Translation of wit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wit for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wit

Comments on wit

What made you want to look up wit? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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