Wit: Definition, Examples & Meaning

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      According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Wit can be understood as keen intelligence or else a natural talent for using words and ideas in quick, amusing ways. Wit has to be understood as a sharpness of the mind. A witty person can respond quickly to situations in such a manner that they can highlight their sharpness of mind. Wit certainly arouses amusement in the listener, but it may not always be funny. Forms of wit include the quip and repartee. Today, the meaning of wit is closest to the 17th century definition, although we are likely to associate the term with comedy and laughter in addition to creativity. It is now most commonly thought of as clever expression - whether aggressive or harmless, that is, with or without derogatory intent toward someone or something in particular. We also tend to think of wit as being characterized by a mocking or paradoxical quality, evoking laughter through apt phrasing.

      Wit can be used even to criticize and even point out the flaws of another through an amusing manner. In such a situation, the person does not directly attacks the individual but uses words in such a way that it works as a criticism. For an example, in Jane Austen’s Pride, and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Bennet are praised for their witty nature. Both are fine examples of witty individuals who use their sharpness of mind to create amusement while emphasizing the flaws of another. The very opening sentence of the novel Pride and Prejudice is a great example of wit - “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Similarly, the famous quotation of Oscar Wilde in his The Importance of Being Earnest is another witty expression — “I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is a delicate exotic fruit, touch it and the bloom is gone.” Other writers who are often cited for their wit include Aphra Behn, John Donne, Alexander Pope, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and Dorothy Parker.

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