\ 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 wit (audio) \; witting; present first and third person singular wot\ ˈwät How to pronounce wit (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 The series is a visual riot, complete with period costumes and sumptuous sets (from upper crust drawing rooms to tawdry nightclubs) and is written with a delicious mix of action and wit to keep things exciting but never procedural. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "Move Over, Sherlock! Miss Scarlet and the Duke Star Kate Phillips on TV's Greatest New Detective," 18 Jan. 2021 In 1967, the Braves’ backup catcher, Bob Uecker — who later became a renowned baseball announcer and wit — suggested that Mr. Niekro use the knuckleball all the time. Washington Post, "Phil Niekro, baseball’s Hall of Fame master of the knuckleball, dies at 81," 30 Dec. 2020 He’s been blessed and cursed with a significant amount of intelligence and wit, but doesn’t really fit into society so well. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Denzel Washington and Rami Malek are cops hunting a killer in The Little Things trailer," 22 Dec. 2020 To wit, try keeping your head warm in a fine faux fur chapeau from Emma Brewin or a trapper style from Cordova. Madeline Fass, Vogue, "Heading Out? Don’t Forget These Stylish, Winter-Ready Accessories," 16 Dec. 2020 Even now, a certain type of Englishman, eyebrow permanently raised, can prosper mightily abroad by presenting this same cultured cynicism and easy wit. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, "John le Carré Knew England’s Secrets," 14 Dec. 2020 Former co-workers recalled his engaging personality and sharp wit. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Former reporter, editor Jeff Rose remembered as pioneer in online journalism at Union-Tribune," 6 Dec. 2020 Mankiewicz’s most devoted interlocutor — a fellow transplant from New York and a first-class wit in her own right — is Marion Davies, the actress who is also Hearst’s longtime romantic partner. New York Times, "‘Mank’ Review: A Rosebud by Any Other Name," 3 Dec. 2020 His reaction was another example of his droll and often self-deprecating wit. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Natan Sharansky and the Meaning of Freedom," 28 Nov. 2020

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

25 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wit. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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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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