Q From Kirstin Cruikshank: Have you any idea where to wit came from?
A To wit is now just a fixed expression. It’s a shortened form of that is to wit meaning “that is to know; that is to say; namely”, from the English verb wit “to know”. This was a strong verb with past tense wot, as in “A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot”. In Old English it was spelt witan, and even further back it was linked with a Germanic verb meaning “to see”. In the first of these senses, it’s closely connected with the modern German verb wissen; in the second it’s the origin of our witness. It developed further to refer to a person’s understanding or judgement or mind (hence “keep your wits about you”).
Search World Wide Words
Recently added or updated
Joe Soap; Fair to middling; Nimrod; Isabelline; No soap; Umquhile; Steal one’s thunder; Katy bar the door; Simoleon; Dope; Lord love a duck; Yarely; Upset the apple cart; Snooter; Fard; By hook or by crook; Polish off; Loggerhead; Lame duck; But and ben; Logomaniac; Type louse; Corium; Lie Doggo; Fewmet; Dingbat; Kibosh; Caucus; Oryzivorous.
Support World Wide Words!
Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.