What Does 'To Wit' Mean?


5 Answers

Rosie Normanton Profile
Rosie Normanton answered
‘To Wit’ is a fixed expression that is a shorted form of the phrase ‘that is to wit’. It means, "that is to know”, "that is to say” or "namely”, and comes from the English verb ‘wit’, which means ‘to know’. This was a strong verb with the past tense ‘wot’, for example "A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot”. The Old English spelling was ‘witan’ and further back it was linked with a Germanic verb meaning ‘to see’. The Old English spelling ‘witan’ can be closely connected with the German verb ‘wissen’ and was the origin of our word ‘witness’. The word also developed in the English language to refer to a person’s understanding, judgement of mind, such as ‘to keep your wits about you’.

An informal example of the verb in use is, "The wonders of the world are, to wit: The Opera House in Sydney, the Statue of Liberty...” However, it is a phrase that is mostly archaic in modern daily usage and can be found primarily in ‘legalese’. It may be used in court, as in the example "The defendant is charged with possession of a controlled substance, to wit, cocaine…”. The verb can be replaced with the synonyms namely, that is to say or viz.

Reading some old etymology books can be one of the best ways to understand the origins of archaic language. It can be a fascinating thing to study, and something that will be impressively useful in pub quizzes. Make sure you impress your friends by reading up on the history of the English language!
Yooti Bhansali Profile
Yooti Bhansali answered
The verb 'to wit' simply refers to the knowledge or awareness of something. it is basically the antonym of the verb 'to know' or 'to learn'. The idiom 'to wit' basically means 'to say'. This usage is derived from the Old English word 'witan'.

Wit is also a word used to describe a type of clever humour. A wit is also a person who is very good at making witty comments, usually while having a normal conversation and on the spur of the moment, not rehearsed before hand.

Celebrated people like Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Groucho Marx have been famous for their witty comments and quotes. The former English Prime Minister was also known for his witty sense of humour; his witticisms have been well recorded.
thanked the writer.
Anonymous commented
I believe Cinnamon meant to say "it is basically the synonym of the verb 'to know' or 'to learn'.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Black's Law Dictionary (8th Edition) defines "To wit" to mean: "That is to say; namely."
kaibalya panda Profile
kaibalya panda answered
 wit' simply refers to the knowledge or awareness of something. It is basically the antonym of the verb 'to know' or 'to learn'. 

Answer Question