Wit

Wit is a form of intellectual humour. A wit (person) is someone skilled in making witty remarks. Forms of wit include: the quip and the repartee.

Forms of wit

As in the wit of Parker's set, the Algonquin Round Table, witty remarks may be intentionally cruel (as in many epigrams), and perhaps more ingenious than funny.

A quip is an observation or saying that has some wit but perhaps descends into sarcasm, or otherwise is short of point; a witticism also suggests the diminutive. Repartee is the wit of the quick answer and capping comment: the snappy comeback and neat retort. (Wilde: "I wish I'd said that." Whistler: "You will, Oscar, you will".)

In French one can distinguish between the ', a witty remark actually produced, and the ', the thing one should have said that typically comes to mind too late to be of any use.

Wit in poetry

Wit in poetry is characteristic of metaphysical poetry as a style, and was prevalent in the time of English playwright Shakespeare, who admonished pretension with the phrase "Better a witty fool than a foolish wit". It may combine word play with conceptual thinking, as a kind of verbal display requiring attention, without intending to be laugh-aloud funny; in fact wit can be a thin disguise for more poignant feelings that are being versified. English poet John Donne is the representative of this style of poetry.

Further meanings

More generally, one's wits are one's intellectual powers of all types. Native wit — meaning the wits with which one is born — is closely synonymous with common sense. To live by one's wits is to be an opportunist, not always of the scrupulous kind. To have one's wits about one is to be alert and capable of quick reasoning.

Famous wits

John Wilkes was famous in the 18th Century for his wit in response to insults. Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker and Groucho Marx are considered archetypal 19th and 20th century wits — sometimes even having the remarks of others attributed to them. Also of the twentieth century was British prime minister Winston Churchill, with perhaps the most well documented witticisms of his time. Oliver St. John Gogarty was a renowned Dublin wit and surgeon, while John Philpot Curran was an Irish lawyer who would disrupt court hearings with his witticisms. Ksawery Tartakower is usually described as chess grandmaster "and" wit. John Lennon of famous pop group The Beatles was notorious for his sharp and cutting wit, often being labeled "the witty Beatle". The late David Lange, the Prime Minister of New Zealand in the 1980s, immortalized with his nuclear-free legislation, is another well-known historical figure who is remembered for his quick wit. The satirist Peter Cook was known for his quick wit.

See also

* Oxford Wits
* New Oxford Wits
* Hartford Wits

Bibliography

* D. W. Jefferson, "Tristram Shandy" and the Tradition of Learned Wit" in "Essays in Criticism", 1(1951), 225-48


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • 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.] [1913 Webster] 1. Mind; intellect; understanding; sense. [1913 Webster] Who knew the wit of the Lord? or who was his… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • wit — [wıt] n ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 1¦(amusing)¦ 2¦(amusing person)¦ 3 wits 4 frighten/scare/terrify somebody out of their wits 5 gather/collect/recover etc your wits 6 pit your wits against somebody 7 be at your wits end 8 have the wit to do something 9 not be… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • wit — n 1 intelligence, brain, *mind, intellect, soul, psyche Analogous words: *reason, understanding, intuition: comprehension, apprehension (see under APPREHEND): sagaciousness or sagacity, perspicaciousness or perspicacity (see corresponding… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • wit — [ wıt ] noun * 1. ) singular or uncount the ability to use words in a clever way to make people laugh: He is a man of great wit, sensitivity, and passion. a dry/biting/acerbic/caustic wit (=the tendency to say clever and slightly cruel things):… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • WIT — steht für: Wit, ein Fluss in Bulgarien Wit ist der Name folgender Personen: Antoni Wit (* 1944), polnischer Dirigent Piet de Wit (Radsportler) (* 1946), niederländischer Radrennfahrer Piet de Wit (Unternehmer) (1869–1947), niederländischer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • wit — wit1 [wit] n. [ME < OE, akin to Ger witz: for IE base see WISE1] 1. Obs. the mind 2. [pl.] a) powers of thinking and reasoning; intellectual and perceptive powers b) mental faculties with respect to their state of balance, esp. in their normal …   English World dictionary

  • 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,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • WIT — is:* The ticker symbol for Wipro Technologies, India.* The timezone Waktu Indonesia Timur, covering eastern IndonesiaPerformance groups abbreviated WIT:* Washington Improv Theater of Washington, DC, USA. * Wellington Improvisation Troupe in… …   Wikipedia

  • Wit — (logiciel) wit est un logiciel libre écrit en Python fournissant une interface Web pour le système de gestion de versions git. Voir aussi gitweb écrit en Perl git php écrit en PHP Liens externes Wit au travail (sources du noyau Linux) Ce document …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Wit FM — Création 1er juin 1988 Propriétaire Start Langue Français Pays  France Statut Radio pri …   Wikipédia en Français


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.