wits


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wit 1

 (wĭt)
n.
1.
a. The natural ability to perceive and understand; intelligence.
b. often wits Practical intelligence; shrewdness or resourcefulness: living by one's wits.
c. wits Sound mental faculties; sanity: scared out of my wits.
2.
a. The ability to express oneself intelligently in a playful or humorous manner, often in overturning audience expectations: a writer with a scintillating wit.
b. A person noted for this ability, especially in conversation: "My mother, the family wit and teaser, knew better than to joke about the disaster" (Donald Hall).
c. Intelligent playfulness or humor in expression, as in speech, writing, or art: novels known for their wit and inventiveness.
d. A person of exceptional intelligence.
Idioms:
at (one's) wits' end
At the limit of one's mental resources; utterly at a loss.
have/keep (one's) wits about (one)
To remain alert or calm, especially in a crisis.

[Middle English, from Old English; see weid- in Indo-European roots.]

wit 2

 (wĭt)
v. wist (wĭst), wit·ting (wĭt′ĭng), first and third person singular present tense wot (wŏt) Archaic
v.tr.
To be or become aware of; learn.
v.intr.
To know.
Idiom:
to wit
That is to say; namely.

[Middle English, from Old English witan; see weid- in Indo-European roots.]

wits

(wɪts)
pl n
1. (sometimes singular) the ability to reason and act, esp quickly (esp in the phrase have one's wits about one)
2. (sometimes singular) right mind, sanity (esp in the phrase out of one's wits)
3. at one's wits' end at a loss to know how to proceed
4. five wits obsolete the five senses or mental faculties
5. live by one's wits to gain a livelihood by craftiness and cunning rather than by hard work

Wits

(wɪts)
n
(Education) informal South African University of the Witwatersrand
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.wits - the basic human power of intelligent thought and perception; "he used his wits to get ahead"; "I was scared out of my wits"; "he still had all his marbles and was in full possession of a lively mind"
intelligence - the ability to comprehend; to understand and profit from experience
Translations
References in classic literature ?
Being still too young to go often to the theater, and not rich enough to afford any great outlay for private performances, the girls put their wits to work, and necessity being the mother of invention, made whatever they needed.
and Tom mentally girded himself for a battle of wits.
More than once they put their wits together to rescue some unfortunate farmer from the clutches of Wick Cutter, the Black Hawk money-lender.
When the appetites of the whole were appeased, the squaws removed the trenchers and gourds, and the two parties began to prepare themselves for a subtle trial of their wits.
In his younger days--for, after all, there was a dim tradition that he had been, not young, but younger--Uncle Venner was commonly regarded as rather deficient, than otherwise, in his wits.
I felt that I might, perhaps, after all, succeed in keeping my wits about me.
He was sure to go to the railway station just as the train was coming in, and cabs and carriages, carts and omnibuses were all trying to get over the bridge together; that bridge wanted good horses and good drivers when the railway bell was ringing, for it was narrow, and there was a very sharp turn up to the station, where it would not have been at all difficult for people to run into each other, if they did not look sharp and keep their wits about them.
Anybody who could invent a new imitation had been sure of a fortune from old Durham, said Jurgis' informant; but it was hard to think of anything new in a place where so many sharp wits had been at work for so long; where men welcomed tuberculosis in the cattle they were feeding, because it made them fatten more quickly; and where they bought up all the old rancid butter left over in the grocery stores of a continent, and "oxidized" it by a forced-air process, to take away the odor, rechurned it with skim milk, and sold it in bricks in the cities
Practical jokes worthy of the English wits of the first quarter of the far-off nineteenth century were sprung here and there and yonder along the line, and compelled the delightedest applause; and sometimes when a bright remark was made at one end of the procession and started on its travels toward the other, you could note its progress all the way by the sparkling spray of laughter it threw off from its bows as it plowed along; and also by the blushes of the mules in its wake.
Because, you know, when you get scared that way, and it keeps running on, and getting worse and worse all the time, and your wits gets to addling, and you get to doing all sorts o' wild things, and by and by you think to yourself, spos'n I was a boy, and was away up there, and the door ain't locked, and you --" She stopped, looking kind of wondering, and then she turned her head around slow, and when her eye lit on me -- I got up and took a walk.
Wilson knew Roxy by sight, and when the duel of wits begun to play out, he stepped outside to gather in a record or two.
She kep' me so surprised I didn't have my wits about me.