\ˈwit \

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

b : mind, memory

4a : sense 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

at one's wit's end or at one's wits' end

: at a loss for a means of solving a problem


\ˈwit \
wist\ ˈwist \; witting; present first and third person singular wot\ ˈwät \

Definition of wit (Entry 2 of 2)

1 archaic : know

2 archaic : to come to know : learn

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Synonyms & Antonyms for wit

Synonyms: Noun

common sense, discreetness, discretion, gumption [chiefly dialect], horse sense, levelheadedness, nous [chiefly British], policy, prudence, sense, sensibleness, wisdom

Antonyms: Noun

imprudence, indiscretion

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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


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

And while the '90s Salem had a quick wit and sharp tongue, the Salem in CAOS has quick reflexes and an actual bite than just bark. 7. Jessica Macleish, Teen Vogue, "11 Differences Between "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch"," 26 Oct. 2018 John McCain also might have inherited his mother's sass, wit and rebellious streak. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "John McCain's 'spunky' 106-year-old mother to attend his services," 30 Aug. 2018 Unlike countries that have used space projects mainly for national prestige, since the 1980s Britain’s industry has had to live on its wits, with little government support. The Economist, "Britain’s space industry, Brexit’s final frontier," 3 May 2018 Trump has proven to be an unconventional commander in chief who prefers to live on his wits and seems perpetually mired in crisis. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "'Apoplectic' Trump juggles legal drama and North Korea," 18 Apr. 2018 The characters have to rely on their wits to outsmart the firepower and social power of the men around them. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "Good Girls Is the Perfect Show for This Moment," 26 Feb. 2018 After his father was killed in a mass execution by Nazi forces in 1941, Mr. Bloch, then 16, was forced to survive on his wits and guile. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "Sam Bloch, WWII resistance fighter and guardian of survivors’ memory, dies at 93," 16 Feb. 2018 Local boosters who persuaded National Football League owners to stage their showcase event in this southwestern corner of the United States were short on experience but long on wits and promise. Jeff Mcdonald, sandiegouniontribune.com, "San Diego hosts Super Bowl," 26 Jan. 2018 For all of Beane’s considerable wit and his ability to fashion choice one-liners, that goal is only occasionally achieved. Don Aucoin, BostonGlobe.com, "‘The Closet’ plays sexual identity for old-fashioned laughs," 1 July 2018

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

Dictionary Entries near wit







witch's brew

Statistics for wit

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for wit

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

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More Definitions for wit



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

wits : the ability to think or reason


\ˈwit \

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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