wit

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 adjectives at SHREWD)
2 Wit, humor, irony, sarcasm, satire, repartee are comparable when they denote a mode of expression which has for its aim the arousing of sudden sharp interest that is accompanied by amusement or laughter or a quality of mind which leads or predisposes to such expression.
Wit which can denote reasoning power or mental capacity more typically implies intellectual brilliance and quickness in perception combined with the talent for expressing one's ideas in a sparkling effective manner; in this sense wit need not imply the evocation of laughter, but it suggests a delighting and entertaining
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they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them— Shak.

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true wit is nature to advantage dressed, what oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed— Pope

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Sometimes the implication of a power to evoke laughter or smiles becomes prominent and the term without any loss of its earlier suggestions of mental acuteness and swift perception, especially of the incongruous, adds notions of verbal felicity, especially as shown in the expression's unexpectedness of turn and aptness of application
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if thou hast wit, and fun, and fire, and ne'er good wine did fear— Burns

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Humor is often contrasted with wit, especially as one of two similar yet strikingly different modes of expression in literature. Humor may designate the peculiar disposition that leads one to perceive the ludicrous, the comical, or the ridiculous, and to express one's perceptions so as to make others see or feel the same thing
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she was always saved by her crisp sense of humor, her shrewd and mischievous wit— Ellis

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or it may imply more human sympathy, more tolerance, more kindliness than wit, a deeper sense of the inherent incongruities in human nature and human life, and a feeling for the not readily perceived pathos as well as for the not readily perceived absurdness of characters, of situations, or of consequences
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writers distinguish the humor of Chaucer and Shakespeare from the wit of Dryden and Pope; the wit of Molière's comedies from the humor of Don Quixote

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you expect wit from every man of any eminence in the eighteenth century. But of that sympathetic enjoyment of all the manifold contrasts and incongruities of life which we call humor, I think Wesley had very little— Winchester

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Irony applies chiefly to a way of speaking or writing in which the meaning intended is contrary to that seemingly expressed
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"Of course Constance is always right," observed Sophia, with . . . irony—Bennett

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she was assisted by an impetuous girl called Caroline . . . who by the irony of language "waited" at table— Mackenzie

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In a deeper sense irony applies both to the quality of mind of a person (as a poet, dramatist, or philosopher) who perceives discrepancies in life and in character (as between the appearance and the reality, or between what is promised and what is fulfilled, or between what is attempted and what is accomplished) and to the form of humor or wit which has for its aim the revelation of the mockery implicit in these contradictions
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there must be some meaning beneath all this terrible ironyShaw

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a kind of understatement which recalls to us at once the grim and conscious irony of those who knew that "their feet had come to the end of the world"— Day Lewis

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Sarcasm applies chiefly to a savage, bitter form of humor intended to cut or wound. Sarcasm need not imply the use of verbal irony, sometimes suggesting no more than plain speaking, but it regularly implies as its aim the intent to make the victim an object of ridicule
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in the intercourse of familiar life, he indulged his disposition to petulance and sarcasmJohnson

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the arrows of sarcasm are barbed with contempt— Gladden

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Satire primarily designates writing intended to hold up vices or follies (as of a people or an age) for ridicule and reprobation
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Jonson's drama is only incidentally satire, because it is only incidentally a criticism upon the actual world . . . that is, it does not find its source in any precise emotional attitude or precise intellectual criticism of the actual world— T. S. Eliot

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Repartee applies chiefly to the power or art of answering quickly, pointedly, skillfully, and with wit or humor or, less often, irony or sarcasm
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as for repartee in particular, as it is the very soul of conversation, so it is the greatest grace of comedy— Dryden

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I hadn't known Jane spoke so well. She has a clever, coherent way of making her points, and is concise in reply if questioned, quick at repartee if heckled— Rose Macaulay

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Analogous words: quick-wittedness, alertness, brightness, brilliancy, cleverness, smartness, intelligence (see corresponding adjectives at INTELLIGENT): raillery, *badinage, persiflage: pungency, piquancy, poignancy (see corresponding adjectives at PUNGENT)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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 — 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… …   Wikipedia

  • 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 — [ 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

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