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Crossword clues for wit

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
a ready wit
▪ an intelligent man with a ready wit
addle sb’s brains/wits
▪ All that drink has addled his brains!
caustic wit/comments/remark etc
▪ Eliot appreciated Pound’s caustic wit.
pit your wits against sb (=compete against someone using your intelligence or knowledge)
▪ Pit your wits against family or friends!
scared witless/out of your witsinformal (= extremely scared)
▪ She admitted she was scared witless.
▪ Sir Brian is loud-mouthing Sir Bernard, who is assaulting the other five with caustic wit.
▪ He quickly built up a reputation for his dry wit.
▪ He was a dour Yankee, tall, confident, elegant, with a dry wit and aristocratic tastes.
▪ Mr Andreotti has been cleared in two trials, and is now a chat show regular with a dry wit.
▪ He was a brilliant improviser with a dry wit and a masterly sense of timing.
▪ He was 24, highly intelligent, could drink Malc under the table and had a dry, lightning wit.
▪ He reminded me of Benjamin with his dry wit, sardonic observations and palpable honesty.
▪ Shabba's dominance of reggae is due to his unique voice, strong personal style and quick wit.
▪ Sylvie, tempered with Mathilde's quick wits and humour.
▪ Shrewd in business, he had a ready wit and a distinctive appearance, with a full beard and piercing eyes.
▪ Our offer of riches beyond dreams still stands for those deft with pen and sharp of wit.
▪ Revealing his conclusion would spoil the fun because Hitt tells his story with a deft touch and a sharp wit.
▪ Her poor academic record was traded in for the sharpest of wits, her gaucherie for poise.
▪ Ice creams and lollies seem to benefit from the sharp wit of its frosting.
▪ The blood in my veins ran high and my usually sharp wits dulled.
▪ Lapworth was retiring, generous, especially to his students, and sincere, though he had a sharp wit.
▪ I tried to collect my wits for the arrival.
▪ Knowing the cat as well as she did, Mildred could see that, despite its size, it was frightened out of its wits.
▪ Maura, tears running down her face, was frightened out of her wits.
▪ There is a beautiful little iron-grey mare here that Alejandro has frightened out of her wits and says is too wet for polo.
▪ It is gone even before the predator can gather its wits and make chase.
▪ I felt helpless, but tried to gather my wits.
▪ He remained still and tried to gather his wits.
▪ She slowly gathered her wits, and looked round.
▪ Individually or collectively, they must have made a decision to keep their wits about them for the committee meeting.
▪ His expression kept changing-irony, wit, envy.
▪ For Winnie herself, it required the tightest hold, the fumes of the stuff, to keep her wits about her.
▪ Anyway, she had to keep her wits about her.
▪ If I had kept my wits and remained coherent I would probably have realised the manager's job was third prize.
▪ Freddie lived by his wits and he was involved with many shady characters.
▪ Days when there were no news sensations the newsboys lived by their wits.
▪ At first, I lived on my wits.
▪ But in 1749 he committed a greater indiscretion when he left Cambridge for London, to live on his wits.
▪ Many 16 to 18-year olds are living off their wits and on the streets.
▪ I'd live off my wits even though I've geared myself to be a footballer.
▪ She would need all her wits about her.
▪ Whatever type of change you are dealing with, you need your wits about you.
▪ She needed all her wits and what was left of her strength in order to follow the grand plan.
▪ He knew their conversation had become interrogation and he would need all his wits about him.
▪ She would need all her wits if she were to stand any chance of getting away from him.
▪ When an emergency situation arises the pilot needs all his wits about him.
▪ Jill and Oz will pit their wits against each other, as they try to identify mystery wines.
▪ Suddenly, I heard a loud crash near me, scaring me out of my wits.
▪ People especially like to pat foals, and unfortunately usually on their face or head, which scares the wits out of them.
▪ It also came with a neighbor who scared the wits out of me, but about whom I was curious.
▪ They had seen the knuckles come out of the silken wrapping and the force of it scared their wits back into good manners.
▪ The film has gotten good reviews, but it has scared the wits out of some male film critics.
▪ I was terrified out of my wits at the very idea.
▪ Evidently terrified out of her wits, she had become delirious, mumbling incomprehensibly, her hands rubbing her stomach.
▪ He now used money where he had once used his wit.
▪ My passenger had had a lucky escape that night; he had used his wits well and survived another fight.
▪ The first of them is to use his wits.
▪ Basically, the expression means to use your wits to assess what you are being told.
a battle of wits
a nimble mind/brain/wit
live by your wits
▪ The city's homeless live completely by their wits.
▪ Days when there were no news sensations the newsboys lived by their wits.
▪ Freddie lived by his wits and he was involved with many shady characters.
mordant wit/satire/humour
▪ He showed his willingness to trade his mordant wit for the required political cliches.
▪ A dozen writers and wits used to gather at the Algonquin Hotel for lunch.
▪ He seemed to have everything you could want in a man -- intelligence, wit, good looks and charm.
▪ Oscar Wilde was a famous wit.
▪ People love him for his wit and charm.
▪ Rochester was well known as a wit in society circles.
▪ The wit and irony of the original novel has been lost in the film version.
▪ But then Farah did everything with style and wit courtesy.
▪ He did not hide his opinions in wit as Franklin or in fuzziness as Washington had.
▪ He remained still and tried to gather his wits.
▪ His limpid style and flashes of wit overcame Labour heckling, tickled the press and brought a smile to jaded Tory backbenchers.
▪ People especially like to pat foals, and unfortunately usually on their face or head, which scares the wits out of them.
▪ She was totally guileless, honest, with a mordant sense of humour and sardonic wit.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Wit \Wit\ (w[i^]t), v. t. & i. [inf. (To) Wit; pres. sing. Wot; pl. Wite; imp. Wist(e); p. p. Wist; p. pr. & vb. n. Wit(t)ing. See the Note below.] [OE. witen, pres. ich wot, wat, I know (wot), imp. wiste, AS. witan, pres. w[=a]t, imp. wiste, wisse; akin to OFries. wita, OS. witan, D. weten, G. wissen, OHG. wizzan, Icel. vita, Sw. veta, Dan. vide, Goth. witan to observe, wait I know, Russ. vidiete to see, L. videre, Gr. ?, Skr. vid to know, learn; cf. Skr. vid to find. ????. Cf. History, Idea, Idol, -oid, Twit, Veda, Vision, Wise,

  1. & n., Wot.] To know; to learn. ``I wot and wist alway.''

    Note: The present tense was inflected as follows; sing. 1st pers. wot; 2d pers. wost, or wot(t)est; 3d pers. wot, or wot(t)eth; pl. witen, or wite. The following variant forms also occur; pres. sing. 1st & 3d pers. wat, woot; pres. pl. wyten, or wyte, weete, wote, wot; imp. wuste (Southern dialect); p. pr. wotting. Later, other variant or corrupt forms are found, as, in Shakespeare, 3d pers. sing. pres. wots.

    Brethren, we do you to wit [make you to know] of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia.
    --2 Cor. viii. 1.

    Thou wost full little what thou meanest.

    We witen not what thing we prayen here.

    When that the sooth in wist.

    Note: This verb is now used only in the infinitive, to wit, which is employed, especially in legal language, to call attention to a particular thing, or to a more particular specification of what has preceded, and is equivalent to namely, that is to say.


Wit \Wit\, n. [AS. witt, wit; akin to OFries. wit, G. witz, OHG. wizz[=i], Icel. vit, Dan. vid, Sw. vett. [root]133. See Wit, v.]

  1. Mind; intellect; understanding; sense.

    Who knew the wit of the Lord? or who was his counselor?
    --Wyclif (Rom. xi. 34).

    A prince most prudent, of an excellent And unmatched wit and judgment.

    Will puts in practice what wit deviseth.
    --Sir J. Davies.

    He wants not wit the dander to decline.

  2. A mental faculty, or power of the mind; -- used in this sense chiefly in the plural, and in certain phrases; as, to lose one's wits; at one's wits' end, and the like. ``Men's wittes ben so dull.''

    I will stare him out of his wits.

  3. Felicitous association of objects not usually connected, so as to produce a pleasant surprise; also. the power of readily combining objects in such a manner.

    The definition of wit is only this, that it is a propriety of thoughts and words; or, in other terms, thoughts and words elegantly adapted to the subject.

    Wit which discovers partial likeness hidden in general diversity.

    Wit lying most in the assemblage of ideas, and putting those together with quickness and variety wherein can be found any resemblance or congruity, thereby to make up pleasant pictures in the fancy.

  4. A person of eminent sense or knowledge; a man of genius, fancy, or humor; one distinguished for bright or amusing sayings, for repartee, and the like.

    In Athens, where books and wits were ever busier than in any other part of Greece, I find but only two sorts of writings which the magistrate cared to take notice of; those either blasphemous and atheistical, or libelous.

    Intemperate wits will spare neither friend nor foe.

    A wit herself, Amelia weds a wit.

    The five wits, the five senses; also, sometimes, the five qualities or faculties, common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, and memory.
    --Chaucer. Nares.

    But my five wits nor my five senses can Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee.

    Syn: Ingenuity; humor; satire; sarcasm; irony; burlesque.

    Usage: Wit, Humor. Wit primarily meant mind; and now denotes the power of seizing on some thought or occurrence, and, by a sudden turn, presenting it under aspects wholly new and unexpected -- apparently natural and admissible, if not perfectly just, and bearing on the subject, or the parties concerned, with a laughable keenness and force. ``What I want,'' said a pompous orator, aiming at his antagonist, ``is common sense.'' ``Exactly!'' was the whispered reply. The pleasure we find in wit arises from the ingenuity of the turn, the sudden surprise it brings, and the patness of its application to the case, in the new and ludicrous relations thus flashed upon the view. Humor is a quality more congenial to the English mind than wit. It consists primarily in taking up the peculiarities of a humorist (or eccentric person) and drawing them out, as Addison did those of Sir Roger de Coverley, so that we enjoy a hearty, good-natured laugh at his unconscious manifestation of whims and oddities. From this original sense the term has been widened to embrace other sources of kindly mirth of the same general character. In a well-known caricature of English reserve, an Oxford student is represented as standing on the brink of a river, greatly agitated at the sight of a drowning man before him, and crying out, ``O that I had been introduced to this gentleman, that I might save his life! The, ``Silent Woman'' of Ben Jonson is one of the most humorous productions, in the original sense of the term, which we have in our language.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"mental capacity," Old English wit, witt, more commonly gewit "understanding, intellect, sense; knowledge, consciousness, conscience," from Proto-Germanic *wit- (cognates: Old Saxon wit, Old Norse vit, Danish vid, Swedish vett, Old Frisian wit, Old High German wizzi "knowledge, understanding, intelligence, mind," German Witz "wit, witticism, joke," Gothic unwiti "ignorance"), from PIE *weid- "to see," metaphorically "to know" (see vision). Related to Old English witan "to know" (source of wit (v.)). Meaning "ability to connect ideas and express them in an amusing way" is first recorded 1540s; that of "person of wit or learning" is from late 15c. For nuances of usage, see humor.\n\nA witty saying proves nothing. [Voltaire, Diner du Comte de Boulainvilliers]\n

\nWit ought to be five or six degrees above the ideas that form the intelligence of an audience.

[Stendhal, "Life of Henry Brulard"]

\nWitjar was old slang (18c.) for "head, skull." Witling (1690s) was "a pretender to wit."

"to know" (archaic), Old English witan (past tense wast, past participle witen) "to know, beware of or conscious of, understand, observe, ascertain, learn," from Proto-Germanic *witan "to have seen," hence "to know" (cognates: Old Saxon witan, Old Norse vita, Old Frisian wita, Middle Dutch, Dutch weten, Old High German wizzan, German wissen, Gothic witan "to know"), from PIE *weid- (see wit (n.)). The phrase to wit, almost the only surviving use of the verb, is first recorded 1570s, from earlier that is to wit (mid-14c.), probably a loan-translation of Anglo-French cestasavoir, used to render Latin videlicet (see viz.).


Etymology 1 n. 1 (context now usually in the plural English) sanity. 2 (context obsolete usually in the plural English) The senses. 3 Intellectual ability; faculty of thinking, reasoning. 4 The ability to think quickly; mental cleverness, especially under short time constraints. 5 Intelligence; common sense. 6 humour, especially when clever or quick. Etymology 2

vb. (context ambitransitive chiefly archaic English) know, be aware of (qualifier: construed with '''of''' when used intransitively). Etymology 3

prep. (en-SoE) (alternative spelling of with English)

  1. n. a message whose ingenuity or verbal skill or incongruity has the power to evoke laughter [syn: humor, humour, witticism, wittiness]

  2. mental ability; "he's got plenty of brains but no common sense" [syn: brain, brainpower, learning ability, mental capacity, mentality]

  3. a witty amusing person who makes jokes [syn: wag, card]


Wit is a form of intelligent humour, the ability to say or write things that are clever and usually funny. A wit is a person skilled at making clever and funny remarks. Forms of wit include the quip and repartee.

Wit (play)

Wit (also styled as W;t) is a one-act play written by American playwright Margaret Edson, which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Edson used her work experience in a hospital as part of the inspiration for her play.

Wit (film)

Wit is a 2001 American television movie directed by Mike Nichols. The teleplay by Nichols and Emma Thompson is based on the 1999 Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same title by Margaret Edson.

The film was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 9, 2001 before being broadcast by HBO on March 24. It was shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival and the Warsaw Film Festival later in the year.

Usage examples of "wit".

I just sat back on my heels and let her tongue lash over me, until at last it dawned on me that the old abo must have gone running to her and she thought we were responsible for scaring him out of what wits he had.

Never was an actress found who could replace her, and to find one it would be necessary that she should unite in herself all the perfections which Silvia possessed for the difficult profession of the stage: action, voice, intelligence, wit, countenance, manners, and a deep knowledge of the human heart.

Camille had no other lovers--an astonishing thing in an actress of the kind, but being full of tact and wit she drove none of her admirers to despair.

Andrea went off without answering him, laughing at the acumen still left to this cracked wit.

I shall smooth out thy frowns with a smile when thou hast heard this: this folk are not only afeard of their old enemies, the devil-led men, but also they fear those whom the devil-led men have driven out of house and home, to wit, the Burgers.

Thus it was foreshadowed that the law of the land and the due process of law clauses, which were originally inserted in our constitutions to consecrate a specific mode of trial in criminal cases, to wit, the grand jury, petit jury process of the common law, would be transformed into a general restraint upon substantive legislation capable of affecting property rights detrimentally.

Six pearl-bright years aflower with gold of joy, Sprung from the heart of those brave tear-fed years: But what that seventh single stamen is My little wit must leave for thee to tell.

Even Albacore laughed, and now the conversation became general, running like quicksilver from tongue to tongue, good thing following good thing, wisdom and wit doled out in a prodigality of plenty, and I felt tears prick my eyes at the sense of privilege and pleasure in being part of this company in this place at this time.

Uit de baren eener schuimende zee van gaas verrees een ruw, als uit wit marmer gehouwen kruis, waaraan een slanke witte vrouw zich in doodsgevaar vastklampte, terwijl haar voeten door een tulle golf werden oversproeid.

Look, Lackwit hath learned that he truly lacks wit, and that Amoroso and Belinda are about to sing their love duet to signify that the play is over, and that he was cuckolded before he even wed his Mistress and made her wife!

Trying to gather her wits, Angelique continued to scrutinize the stranger before her.

While he was answering with much wit some jokes of the count, I kept looking at him with some anxiety, but he came up to me and embraced me warmly.

Yet this problem, to your eyes, I fear, not essentially novel or peculiarly involute, holds for my contemplative faculties an extraordinary fascination, to wit: wherein does the mind, in itself a muscle, escape from the laws of the physical, and wherein and wherefore do the laws of the physical exercise so inexorable a jurisdiction over the processes of the mind, so that a disorder of the visual nerve actually distorts the asomatous and veils the pneumatoscopic?

Whenever I tried to make her talk about the captain she would change the subject of conversation, or evade my insinuations with a tact and a shrewdness which astonished and delighted me at the same time, for everything she said bore the impress of grace and wit.

What astonished the most acute was that this wonderful treaty was conceived and carried out by a young ambassador who had hitherto been famed only as a wit.