verb \ ˈwit \
|Updated on: 10 Jul 2018

Definition of wit

wist play \ˈwist\; witting; present first and third person singular wot play \ˈwät\
1 archaic : know
2 archaic : to come to know : learn

Origin and Etymology of wit

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




Definition of wit

1 a : mind, memory
b : reasoning power : intelligence
2 a : sense 2a usually used in plural
  • alone 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
3 a : astuteness of perception or judgment : acumen
b : the ability to relate seemingly disparate things so as to illuminate or amuse
c (1) : a talent for banter or persiflage
(2) : a witty utterance or exchange
d : clever or apt humor
4 a : a person of superior intellect : thinker
b : an imaginatively perceptive and articulate individual especially skilled in banter or persiflage
at one's wit's end or at one's wits' end
: at a loss for a means of solving a problem

Examples of wit in a Sentence

  1. She is full of wit and vivacity.

  2. His latest book doesn't have the same wit as his earlier books.

  3. The book is a collection of his wit and wisdom.

  4. She was a famous writer and wit.

Recent Examples of wit from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of wit

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

WIT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of wit for English Language Learners

  • : an ability to say or write things that are clever and usually funny

  • : a person who is known for making clever and funny remarks

  • wits : the ability to think or reason

WIT Defined for Kids


noun \ ˈwit \

Definition of wit for Students

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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