\ 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 Told with Yates's characteristic irreverence and wit, interspersed with the words of others who were there, Cannonball! Colin Beresford, Car and Driver, "Eight Books Every Auto Enthusiast Should Read, and One for the Kids," 20 June 2020 His sparkling wit always accompanied a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Ian Holm, star of 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Alien', dead at 88," 19 June 2020 Choose a play on words or an idiom related to the room's function for a floor that displays wit and charm to anyone who enters. Laura Lambert, Better Homes & Gardens, "These Floor Tile Phrases Will Make You Smile Every Time You Walk into the Room," 17 June 2020 The reality is that this is not the first nor the last time you will be asked, or forced, to muster all your heart, courage and wit to persevere in life. Sharon Grigsby, Dallas News, "Born amid 9/11 and graduating in a pandemic: Class of 2020, there will never be another one like you," 14 June 2020 To wit, 61% of 178 antimicrobials approved between 1984 and 2018 were assessed by the FDA under one or more expedited review programs, while 54% of 887 other medicines were evaluated as part of the same programs during that time. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Antimicrobials benefited from expedited FDA programs more than other drugs," 12 June 2020 Ruler of the Interwebs, equipped with a laptop and unparalleled wit. Rasputin Todd, Cincinnati.com, "Need a break from the news? Find a moment of peace with this quarantine quiz 4-pack," 5 June 2020 His languid acerbic wit and genteel sophistication are the perfect foil to Carell's tightly wound, rough-around-the-edges, everything-by-the-book general, who feels deeply but keeps those feelings bottled up, as a good soldier should. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "The Ars verdict is in: Space Force is the best new series of 2020 (so far)," 29 May 2020 Watching Patterson and Klieman match wits for the next few years will be entertaining. Dallas News, "A way-too-early look at TCU football’s 2020 schedule: Can Frogs steal a win against OU?," 7 Apr. 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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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

29 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wit. Accessed 11 Jul. 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

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